Broadway, Hollywood legend Patricia Neal
at Historical Museum June 4

For immediate release May 19, 2006



Contact: Jeff Morgan,, (515) 281-3858

(DES MOINES) – The State Historical Society of Iowa announced today it will welcome Academy and Tony Award-winning actress Patricia Neal and Broadway veteran Joel Vig to Des Moines next month for a benefit at the State Historical Museum.

“An Evening with Patricia Neal” will be 5:30-7 p.m., Sunday, June 4, 2006 at the State Historical Building, 600 E. Locust Street in the heart of Des Moines’ Historic East Village. Tickets are $75 per person and can be reserved by calling 515-281-5111 by May 30. Proceeds will benefit the State Historical Museum.

Guests will have an opportunity to meet Neal and listen to a presentation about her life and career in Hollywood and on Broadway. Neal received the first-ever Tony Award in 1947 for best supporting actress in Another Part of the Forest. Vig, an original cast member of the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit, Hairspray, will join Neal for questions and answers. Before the event, Neal and Vig will meet privately with theater students from the Des Moines Playhouse education program.

“Patricia Neal is an American treasure,” said Anita Walker, director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. “She comes from one of greatest eras of acting and she is a genuine icon of American movies and theater. We are delighted she is joining us to help raise support for the museum.”

At the event, guests can purchase an original signed print by Nicolosi, a pop artist known for his portraits of celebrities. The art work was inspired by a photograph of Neal from the 1963 film, Hud, with Paul Newman, the movie for which she received an Academy Award for best actress. The pop art print can be viewed at M.C. Ginsberg Jewelers locations at Governor Square in West Des Moines and 110 E. Washington Street in Iowa City. A new biography of Neal, An Unquiet Life, was released in April by University of Kentucky Press.

The State Historical Museum offers visitors an opportunity to experience the people, places and events that shaped the history of Iowa. Interactive exhibits, educational programs and tours of the museum’s historic battle flags and subterranean, climate-controlled storage facility that houses more than 100,000 artifacts enable visitors to see, hear and even touch Iowa’s heritage. Funded primarily by state appropriations, the museum relies on membership contributions and donations for many of its programs.

Neal, raised in Knoxville, Tenn., overcame personal tragedies on her rise to stardom. After winning the Tony Award, the New York Critics Award and Look Magazine’s “Best New Actress” in 1947 for Another Part of the Forest, Neal turned to Hollywood and starred with Gary Cooper in The Fountainhead and Bright Leaf; Tyrone Power in Diplomatic Courier; and John Wayne in Operation Pacific.

She received critical acclaim in the 1957 hit, A Face in the Crowd, with Andy Griffith and Walter Matthau, and played in Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Audrey Hepburn in 1961. In addition to her Academy Award, Neal received the New York Film Critics Award and the British Academy Award in 1963 for best foreign actress for Hud. She received the British Academy Award again in 1965 for her co-starring role with John Wayne and Kirk Douglas in In Harm’s Way.

While filming Seven Women, Neal suffered three debilitating strokes. At age 39, she was three months pregnant and in a coma. During her recovery, Neal was unable to see, paralyzed on her right side and faced intense rehabilitation treatment. Her subsequent efforts to raise awareness for stroke patients and proper rehabilitation care led to the construction of the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center at the Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville, Tenn.

By 1968, Neal made a triumphant return to the silver screen in The Subject was Roses, for which she received an Academy Award nomination. In 1986, she received the Women’s International Center (WIC) Living Legacy Award, and was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2004 and into the Hollywood “Walk of Fame” in 2005. Today, Neal spends much of her time raising support for stroke patient rehabilitation care and traveling the country giving presentations and lectures.

Neal and Vig, longtime friends, have performed together for years. They performed Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory at the Actor’s Studio in New York and as a benefit for the Helen Hayes Theatre in Nyack, New York, and in other venues across the country. In addition to his role in Hairspray, which won 8 Tony Awards in 2003, Vig is also known for his starring role in the cult hit Ruthless!.

The State Historical Museum is operated by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa’s past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa’s historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. More information about SHSI is available at


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