BARBARA STANWYCK Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Ruby Catherine Stevens                                                                 
Born: 16 July 1907 New York City, New York, U.S.                                             
Died: 20 January 1990 Santa Monica, California, U.S.                                         
Barbara Stanwyck (July 16, 1907 – January 20, 1990) was a four-time Academy               
Award-nominated, three-time Emmy Award-winning, and Golden Globe-winning                     
American actress of film, stage, and screen. She is ranked as the eleventh                   
greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute.                             
Barbara Stanwyck was born Ruby Catherine Stevens in New York City to Catherine               
Ann McPhee, a Canadian immigrant from Nova Scotia, and Byron E. Stevens, an                 
American. She was reared in Brooklyn, New York, where she attended Erasmus                   
Hall High School. When she was two, her mother, who was pregnant at the time,               
died after being pushed off a moving trolley by a drunk. By age four, her father             
had abandoned the family. She was raised in foster homes and by an elder sister,             
but began working at age 13, and was a fashion model and Ziegfeld Girl by the               
age of 15.                                                                                   
In 1926, Stanwyck began performing at the Hudson Theatre in the drama The Noose,             
which became one of the biggest hit plays of the season. She co-starred with                 
actors Rex Cherryman and Wilfred Lucas. Cherryman and Stanwyck began a romantic             
relationship. The relationship was cut short however, when in 1928, Cherryman               
died at the age of 30 of septic poisoning while vacationing in Le Havre, France.             
Her performance in The Noose earned rave reviews, and she was summoned by film               
producer Bob Kane to make a screen test for his upcoming 1927 silent film                   
Broadway Nights where she won a minor part of a fan dancer after losing out the             
lead role, because she couldn't cry during the screen test. This marked                     
Stanwyck's first film appearance.                                                           
In 1926, a friend introduced Stanwyck (then known under her original name) to               
Willard Mack, who was casting his play The Noose. Asked to audition, she was                 
hired on the spot. Willard thought a great deal of the actress and believed that             
to change her image, she needed a first class name, one that would stand out. He             
happened to notice a playbill for a play then running called Barbara Frietchie               
in which an actress named Jane Stanwyck appeared. He used this to come up with "Barbara     
Stanwyck" as Ruby's new stage name. She was an instant hit and he even rewrote               
the script to give her a bigger part.                                                       
Stanwyck starred in almost 100 films during her career and received four                     
nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Stella Dallas             
(1937), Ball of Fire (1941), Double Indemnity (1944), and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948).       
In 1954 she appeared opposite Ronald Reagan in the western Cattle Queen of                   
Montana. Perhaps her most famous role was in the 1941 film The Lady Eve, in                 
which she starred with Henry Fonda.                                                         
As well as being a versatile actress Stanwyck also had a reputation as being one             
of the nicest people ever to grace Hollywood. She was known for her                         
accessibility and kindness to the backstage crew on any film set. Frank Capra               
said she was "destined to be beloved by all directors, actors, crews and extras.             
In a Hollywood popularity contest she would win first prize hands down." She                 
received an Academy Honorary Award "for superlative creativity and unique                   
contribution to the art of screen acting" in 1982.                                           
When Stanwyck's film career declined in 1957, she moved to television. Her 1961–1962       
series The Barbara Stanwyck Show was not a ratings success but earned the star               
her first Emmy Award. The 1965–1969 Western series The Big Valley on ABC made             
her one of the most popular actresses on television, winning her another Emmy.               
She was billed as "Miss Barbara Stanwyck," and her role as head of a frontier               
family was likened to that of Ben Cartwright, played by Lorne Greene in the long-running     
NBC series Bonanza. Stanwyck's costars included Richard Long (who had been in               
Stanwyck's 1953 film All I Desire), Peter Breck, Linda Evans, and Lee Majors.               
Twenty years later, Stanwyck earned her third Emmy for The Thorn Birds. Her last             
starring role was in 1985, on the TV series The Colbys alongside Charlton Heston,           
Stephanie Beacham and Katharine Ross; during this time she also made numerous               
appearances on its sister show, Dynasty.                                                     
William Holden always credited her with saving his career when they costarred in             
Golden Boy. They remained lifelong friends. Stanwyck and Holden were presenting             
the Best Sound Oscar. Holden paused to pay a special tribute to Stanwyck.                   
Shortly after Holden's death, Stanwyck returned the favor at an awards ceremony,             
with an emotional reference to "her golden boy."                                             
The Waltons producer, Earl Hamner Jr., wanted Stanwyck for the lead role of                 
Angela Channing on the successful 1980s melodrama, Falcon Crest, which was a                 
spin-off of The Vintage Years, but she turned it down.                                       
In 1973, she was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the                   
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 1987               
the American Film Institute awarded her a televised AFI Life Achievement Award.             
Stanwyck has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1751 Vine Street.                       
Her retirement years were somewhat active, with charity work done completely out             
of the limelight. She became somewhat reclusive following a robbery in her home             
while she was present; she was pushed into a closet, but suffered no serious                 
physical injury.                                                                             
She died of congestive heart disease at St. John's Hospital, in Santa Monica,