During the filming of The Fountainhead (1949), Neal had an affair with her married co-star, Gary Cooper, whom she had met in 1947 when she was 21 and he was 46. By 1950, Cooper`s wife, Veronica, had found out about the relationship and sent Neal a telegram demanding they end it. Neal became pregnant by Cooper, but he persuaded her to have an abortion which made her feel guilty for many years.
The affair ended, but not before Cooper`s daughter, Maria (now Maria Cooper Janis, born 1937), spat at her in public. Years after Cooper`s death, Maria and her mother Veronica reconciled with Patricia Neal.