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When Nell Carter saw her children gathered around her hospital bed, she almost gave up hope.

"I thought, 'That means it's over,' " Carter said in Sunday's Daily News, recalling her battle back from a brain aneurysm that almost killed her four years ago.

Carter, who had gone from nightclub gigs in Birmingham, Ala., to a Tony-winning performance in "Ain't Misbehavin," said she relied on prayer to sustain her.

"I don't remember it, but I'm told I went into the operating room singing songs in both English and Hebrew," says Carter, who converted to Judaism.

The 45-year-old star of television's "Gimme a Break" has bounced back after a second operation to restore her motor skills. She stars in the new film "The Grass Harp," with Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie.

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