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Strang Center welcomes Hollywood Royalty
Film star, Academy Award winner Patricia Neal comes home

Fans of Patricia Neal were treated to a question and answer session with the iconic actress Tuesday, Aug. 12 at Frank R. Strang Center.

Neal visited the center as part of a kickoff to provide a theater group at the center.

As a native of Knoxville, Neal lived in Sequoyah Hills, North Hills and in a home off Magnolia Avenue growing up.

“I wasn’t born here, but I was three when we moved here. We moved here from Packard. Ky. My grandfather was a doctor there, so we traveled back and forth a lot.

Neal, who won an Oscar for her role in the film “Hud” in 1963 talked about the film’s leading man, Paul Newman.

“He is a fine man. He was a fine actor,” she said, adding with a laugh, “But I want to tell you, he is older than me.”

Neal was bitten by the acting bug quite early in life.

“I was very young. I think I was about 11-years old. I went to the Methodist Church then and I saw this glorious lady giving a monologue and my heart was pounding.

“That is what I wanted to do.

“Emily Mahan Foust was my first drama teacher and she was my father’s boss’s daughter.

They gave me that for Christmas … that I could study with Emily Mahan Foust. I adored her. I went to see her yesterday. She is 95. It was really lovely. I adore her and I still send her flowers for her birthday,” she added.

She put her acting skills to work as early as high school as one audience member reminded her.

“Do you remember being at a girl’s party when you were in Knoxville high school and we had you call people in the middle of the night, and you would put on all of these accents?”

Neal laughed and gave the credit to time spent with Foust.

When asked what her proudest moment was, Neal related it to the time she met British author Roald Dahl, the man she eventually married and with whom she had five children.

“I started [my career] on the stage, and when “Another Part of the Forest” closed, I went with Warner Brothers for about five years, and then things went wrong, so I moved back to New York.

“I didn’t have a job, I hadn’t saved any money, and then I read that Lillian Hellman was producing The Children’s Hour. I read for it and I read magnificently,” she said.

“That is where I met Roald Dahl; at A party at Lillian Hellman’s house.

“I thought he was very handsome and I said, ‘Who is that man?’

“I was sitting next to him at supper and he didn’t pay any attention to me at all. He was talking to Leonard Bernstein across the table. So when left, I didn’t like him one bit.

“So then he called me up for a date and I said ‘Oh so sorry, can’t go.’ So he called me again and I decided to go, then I started to like him so … we got married,” she added.

Neal can next be screen in as Margie in the 2009 release of ”Flying By” and as Mrs. Wyatt in “Shattered Glory,” which is in pre-production and also expected to be released in 2009.


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