Oscar winner Patricia Neal dies aged 84

ACTRESS Patricia Neal, who won an Academy Award for 1963 drama Hud and then survived several strokes, has died aged 84.

Neal, who had lung cancer, died at her home in Edgartown, Massachusetts.

Less than two years after winning the Academy Award, she suffered a series of strokes at the age of 39. Her struggle to regain walking and talking is regarded as epic in the annals of stroke rehabilitation.

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She returned to the screen to earn another Oscar nomination and three Emmy nominations.

In 1953 she had married Roald Dahl, the British writer. They had five children and divorced in 1983. Among Neal's children is Tessa Dahl, who followed in her father's footsteps as a writer. Tessa Dahl's daughter is the model and writer Sophie Dahl.

The Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Centre that concentrates on helping people recover from strokes and spinal cord and brain injuries is named after her in Knoxville, where she grew up.

She made a grand return to the screen in 1968, winning an Oscar nomination for her performance in The Subject Was Roses. In 1971 she played Olivia Walton in The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, a made-for-TV film that served as the pilot for the CBS series The Waltons. It brought her the first of her three Emmy nominations.

Even before her own illness, her life often was touched by misfortune. Besides her daughter's death, an infant son nearly died in 1960 when his pram was struck by a taxi.

Neal also suffered a nervous breakdown, and had an ill-fated affair with Gary Cooper.

In her 1988 autobiography As I Am, she wrote: "Frequently my life has been likened to a Greek tragedy, and the actress in me cannot deny that comparison."