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Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal Marriage Profile

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Patricia Neal and Roald Dahl in 1970.

Patricia Neal and Roald Dahl on December 29, 1970.

Photo: Keystone / Getty Images
Infidelity, not adversity, was the cause of the end of the long-lasting marriage of Patricia Neal and Roald Dahl. Although their marriage had survived three tragic events (the severe injuries of their infant son, the death of their eldest daughter, and Patricia's series of strokes), Roald's unfaithfulness led the couple to divorce.

Born:

Patricia Neal aka Patsy Louise Neal: January 20, 1926 in Packard, Kentucky.

Roald Dahl: September 13, 1916 in Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales.

Died:

Patricia Neal: At the age of 84, after suffering from lung cancer, Patricia Neal died on August 8, 2010 at her home in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.
"On the eve of her death, Miss Neal told her family, "I've had a lovely time."
Source: "Patricia Neal: A Biography." PatNeal.org.

Roald Dahl: On November 23, 1990, Roald Dahl died of leukemia in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England.

How Patricia and Roald Met:

Roald and Patricia met at one of Lillian Hellman's parties in 1952.
Roald: "She was in a depressed state when I met her. She was not gay. She was reserved, holding herself in; obviously pretty shaken all around ... I think she planned to work hard as an antidote against her personal misfortunes. So it wasn't a happy girl I was seeing."
Source: Stephen Michael Shearer. Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life. 2006. pg. 149.
Patricia: "I tried to join the conversation but he totally ignored me. I was infuriated and tried to pretend his rudeness did not bother me in the least, but by the end of the evening, I had made up my mind that I loathed Roald Dahl."
Source: Patricia Neal, Richard DeNeut. As I Am: An Autobiography. 1988. pg. 155.
Jason Hook: "At the age of 35, Dahl accepted a friend's invitation to move to New York City. There, at exactly 6:45 P.M. on October 20, 1952, he found himself at a dinner party seated beside the famous Hollywood actress Patricia Neal. We know the time because Dahl would later frame the page from his calendar."
Source: Jason Hook. Roald Dahl: The Storyteller. 2004. pg. 22.

Patricia reportedly refused his first proposal of marriage.

Wedding Date and Information:

Patricia and Roald were married on July 2, 1953 at Trinity Episcopal Church in New York City. The officiant for their wedding ceremony was the Rev. Ernest Nicholson. Mildred Dunnock was the maid of honor and Charles March was the best man. They had no family members present, but friends gathered at the apartment of Charles and Claudia Marsh for a small reception.
"Patricia wore a pink chiffon evening gown with a form-fitting bodice, which she had specially cut down for the wedding. She also wore a hat with tiny flowers that matched the wedding bouquet Roald had given her. Dahl wore a tailored suit, from which he had ripped out the silk lining because of the day's heat. In photographs, the two look radiantly happy."
Source: Stephen Michael Shearer. Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life. 2006. pg. 162.

Roald and Patricia honeymooned in Italy, Switzerland, France, and visited his family while they were in England.

Residences:

Patricia and Roald had an apartment in Manhattan and a home in England. Their three-bedroom, two-story Georgian farmhouse was called Little Whitefield and was located in Great Missenden, England. The house, renamed Gipsy House, was on five acres.

Children:

Roald and Patricia had five children.
  • Olivia Twenty Dahl: Born April 20, 1955. Olivia died on November 17, 1962 at the age of seven of measles encephalitis.
Stephen Shearer: "Roald cried continually after he returned from the hospital. The loss of Olivia was something from which he would never recover."
Source: Stephen Michael Shearer. Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life. 2006. pg. 227.
  • Tessa Dahl aka Chantal Sophia Dahl: Born in 1957.
  • Theo Matthew Roald Dahl: Born in 1960. When Theo was four months old, he was hit by a taxi while in his carriage. Theo recovered from his severe injuries after extensive rehabilitation.
  • Ophelia Magdelena Dahl: Born in 1964.
  • Lucy Neal Dahl: Born in 1965. Patricia had multiple strokes and was in a coma for 21 days during her pregnancy with Lucy.

Occupations:

Patricia: Actress, motivational speaker, author, supporter of the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center.

Roald: Author, screenwriter, actor, inventor, former R.A.F. pilot.

Dahl/Neal Divorce Info:

Patricia and Roald divorced on November 17, 1983 in London. The woman her husband left her for, Felicity Crosland, was a friend of the family and had been "a guest in the Dahls' home on many occasions." Patricia remarked "It's horrible looking back on how many times we were all together on holiday and I never knew." The Neal/Dahl divorce was painful, bitter, and complicated.
Patricia: "When my husband kicked me out, it was horrors, horrors and tears. But I've learned to laugh. The world is astonishing. You never know what's going to happen next ... I loved him for many years and to me, when you get married, you're married forever ... Yes, I still love him."
Source: Megan Gressor, Kerry Cook. All for Love. 2005. pg. 210.
Patricia: "I did not want a divorce, but I would go through with it and begin my life over. I had done it before. I would do it again."
Source: Patricia Neal, Richard DeNeut. As I Am: An Autobiography. 1988. pg. 365.
Patricia: "My husband wants a divorce very badly. He's had this affair for God knows how many years. It's not the first one, I know, but I think this one's been going on for nine years, so that's a little much ... It's just really ghastly. I mean, our marriage was good until I became ill ... It's really agony for me, because I never wanted a divorce. Ever."
Source: Stephen Michael Shearer. Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life. 2006. pg. 332.
Roald: "It's very sad and knocks you out after 30 years. I don't think one ever gets over anything -- death of a child, divorce. You have just got to go on."
Source: Megan Gressor, Kerry Cook. All for Love. 2005. pg. 210.
Patricia: "In mid-life, the man wants to see how irresistible he still is to younger women. How they turn their hearts to stone and more or less commit a murder of their marriage I just don't know, but they do."
Source: Michael Thornton. "The Tortured Life of Mrs. Dahl." DailyMail.co.uk. 8/10/2010.

Other Marriages:

After Roald Dahl divorced Patricia Neal in 1983, he married her close friend, producer Felicity "Liccy" Crosland. It was Liccy's second marriage and it lasted until Roald's death in 1990. She was previously married to Charles Reginald Hugh Crosland in 1959. Charles and Liccy had three children.

Quotes About the Marriage of Patricia Neal and Roald Dahl:

Stephen Shearer: "The Christmas holidays were spent with Patricia's family in Atlanta. It was to be the opportunity for Patricia's family to meet and approve of her husband. But Dahl made no effort to tolerate his new in-laws and was rude and arrogant. His condescending attitude barely disguised his impatience with their thoughts and their talk. Patricia's family was not happy ... Patricia could not understand why his behavior was so rude. Upon their return to New York, the Dahls realized their marriage was in severe trouble."
Source: Stephen Michael Shearer. Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life. 2006. pg. 166.

Megan Gressor: "Writer Roald Dahl's long struggle to save the life, health and sanity of his wife, actress Patricia Neal, after her brain was all but destroyed by three catastrophic strokes, is one of the most poignant and inspiriing love stories of the twentieth century. It is also one of the saddest, for their marriage, which survived illness, tragedy and hardship, disintegrated when the good times returned."
Source: Megan Gressor, Kerry Cook. All for Love. 2005. pg. 205.

Patricia: "I have had my own ides of March. My thirty years of marriage suddenly dissolved on a crisp November day, the seventeenth of November, in 1983. Another November 17 was the date of my beloved first child's death. My Olivia died, only seven years old, from measles, in 1962. Five years later, again on November 17, my mother-in-law died, a strong woman, a cherished remnant of the Dahl family."
Source: Patricia Neal, Richard DeNeut. As I Am: An Autobiography. 1988. p. 14.

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