Pat Neal – The Untold Story of Mistress Patricia Gardiner

Pat Neal is an inspiring actress, having won an Oscar, fallen in love with Gary Cooper, married Roald Dahl and overcome a debilitating stroke to become what many consider to be “superwoman”. Tune into my Classic Hollywood podcast Vanguard of Hollywood to learn more about this remarkable actress!

Pat was raised in Knoxville, Tennessee and developed an aptitude for dramatic readings. She became best friends with Jean Hagen – the renowned actress – whom Pat would eventually marry.

The Mistress

Patricia Campbell has an interesting background, serving as both the dancing mistress of a Loyalist reenactment group and founding The Reel Thing, which promotes live music and traditional dance. After studying dance and literature, Patricia uses her organizational and directing abilities to spread joy of dancing among young people and others.

She is passionate about dance and history. A member of the Country Dance and Song Society, an organization dedicated to preserving traditional music and dance, she teaches classes for various reenactment groups around the US.

She is a strong-willed, stubborn woman – but not in an arrogant or self-indulgent way. She’s smart too, owning her own boutique to support herself. However, her true purpose in life isn’t to impress Jim but to serve as his muse and provide inspiration for his poetry. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about this character in this book – I highly recommend it to those who enjoy historical romances; its characters are well crafted and the plotline compelling.

The Husband

Roald Dahl, Pat Neal’s husband, had a reputation for being emotionally abusive and manipulative. He lied to her when they first met, wouldn’t allow her to visit her mother after her stroke, had the doctor tie up her tubes while unconscious from the experience, and ultimately left Patricia to wed his mistress.

Patricia’s marriage to Dahl ended due to this abuse and ultimately resulted in divorce. Though their union lasted 30 years, Patricia endured much heartache as well as the brain damage suffered by one of her children and the death of another.

She was also forced to relocate from her hometown of Bayshore, Long Island, to Pennsylvania where she studied ballet and took modern dance classes. Eventually she became a choreographer and taught dance at a local school. Her love for performing has taken her around the world as she performed in numerous theaters. Truly an inspiration and role model for women everywhere, she will be greatly missed.

The Wife

Mistress Patricia Gardiner is a loyal and loving woman, deeply sensitive to any perceived slight against her home of Silver Bush. In an effort to protect her family, Patricia becomes too involved in love affairs with men and ultimately loses her independence.

Her oldest brother Sid marries May Binnie, an outspoken and opinionated woman whom Pat despises. After Sid is dumped by another woman, May moves in with the Gardiners at Silver Bush and causes much distress amongst the rest of the family members.

Rachel Gardiner (known affectionately as “Cuddles” and later “Rae”): Pat’s youngest sister who attends Queen’s Academy to gain her teaching license. She shares Pat’s room at Silver Bush until her marriage to Brook Hamilton.

Hilary “Jingle” Gordon: Pat was a childhood friend and an accomplished architect, so when Hilary fell in love with her and proposed, Pat struggled to accept because she still had feelings for David Kirk. Ultimately, however, Pat accepted his proposal despite feeling deeply in love with David Kirk.

Jacqueline Gardiners’ marriage also fails; she and her parents divorce before she turns 18 years old, with Patty receiving $360 per month in child support payments.

She may have other affairs with men, but always puts her husband’s needs first. Additionally, there are other women working at The Long House to help maintain Pat and her finances.

Her mother-in-law, Marion Davies, was renowned for hosting lavish parties inside Hearst’s San Simeon castle – complete with its private zoo and tennis courts. Additionally, Marion willed Patricia a substantial trust that she used throughout the remainder of her life to draw upon.

On February 21st, 1988, Patricia Van Cleve Lake passed away at her home at age 73. She was the offspring of legendary movie star Marion Davies and publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst; she is interred at Hollywood Memorial Cemetery near the Chief.

The Children

She was the only daughter of famed movie star Marion Davies and publisher William Randolph Hearst, growing up at San Simeon castle. A bright child with many talents, but also some faults; her interest in fashions often led her astray; furthering her slow learning speed further, testing both naivete and stubbornness to their limits. Furthermore, she excelled at singing, dancing, chess – until eventually succumbing to a rare disease within six months.

In any case, she left behind a legacy of books and art, as well as some fond memories. Most importantly, those who knew her will remember her fondly. Throughout her turbulent years, she found success as both an author and public philanthropist. Additionally, she had the good fortune to meet and befriend many remarkable people throughout her journey.