"On Her Own Terms: Patricia Neal’s Life and Legacy" at Northwestern University

02 Feb 2013 11:24 AM | Anonymous

A star on both the stage and screen, Northwestern alumna Patricia Neal was best known for her film roles in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), and Hud (1963), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. A new exhibit at Northwestern University Library explores her legacy, based on the extraordinary collection of personal papers, Hollywood souvenirs, photos, and other memorabilia now held by the Northwestern University Archives.


Curated by Benn Joseph, Manuscript Librarian for Special Collections and Archives, the exhibit is packed with artifacts from Neal’s childhood, school life, career, family, legacy, philanthropy and celebrity. Among them are a baby book with a lock of Neal’s hair; intimate letters from Gary Cooper, whom she met while starring with him in The Fountainhead; and her Academy Awards tickets from 1964, the year she was nominated for best actress.


Her marriage to Roald Dahl, the celebrated author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and other beloved children’s books, is chronicled in photographs of Dahl and their five children; a letter Neal wrote about Dahl’s work on James and the Giant Peach; and a profile Dahl wrote for Ladies Home Journal about Neal’s struggle to recover after her stroke. And there are letters from friends and colleagues including Paul Newman, Gene Kelly, Ronald Reagan, Anne Bancroft, Kirk Douglas, and Andy Griffith.


The collection, established at University Archives by Neal’s daughters Lucy and Ophelia Dahl, is “an exceptional collection, the largest collection of personal artifacts ever given to the university by a celebrity alumna,” according to University Archivist Kevin Leonard. “She made lifelong friends here who played an important role in her life,” says Leonard. “She was very fond of Northwestern.”


Northwestern University Library is located at 1970 Campus Drive on Northwestern’s Evanston Campus. The exhibit is free and open to the public through 22 March 2013 during the library’s regular public hours: Monday–Friday, 8:30 AM–5:00 PM and Saturday, 8:30 AM–12:00 PM.

Follow CAA on Twitter or Facebook

© Chicago Area Archivists

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software