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BARBARA STANWYCK

Signed by  Barbara Stanwyck & Joel McCrea

Original Signed-by-Both 1936 Photo from
"Banjo On My Knee"

Original Signed Photo
From "Stella Dallas" 1937

Original Signed Contract Aug. 1942
Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
Her weekly salary then was $16,666.67

Biography for
Barbara Stanwyck


Nickname:  Missy
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Height:  5' 5"

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Mini biography
Most of America's audiences see Barbara Stanwyck as the matriarch of the family known as the Barkley's on TV's western, THE BIG VALLEY, where she played Victoria. Later she starred on the hit drama, DYNASTY. But for millions of other fans, she had a movie career that spanned from 1927 until 1964, and then was on television until 1986. It was a film career that lasted for 59 years. She was born, Ruby Stevens, on July 16, 1907, in Brooklyn, New York. She went to work at the local telephone company for $14 dollars a week, but she had the urge to somehow enter show business. Dreams, that was all it was. When not working, she pounded the pavement in search of dancing jobs. The persistance paid off. Barbara was hired as a chorus girl for the princely sum of $40 a week. This was so much better than the wages she was getting from the phone company. She was 17 and she was going to make the most out of the opportunity that had been given her. In 1928, Barbara moved to Hollywood where she was to start out one of the most lucrative careers filmdom had ever seen. She was an extremely versatile actress, who could adapt to any role. Barbara was equally at home in diverse genres such as the melodrama FORBIDDEN in 1932 and STELLA DALLAS in 1937. along with one of her best films, DOUBLE INDEMNITY in 1944. The latter starred Fred McMurray as you have never seen him before. She excelled in comedies such as REMEMBER THE NIGHT in 1940 and THE LADY EVE in 1941. One of her first westerns was UNION PACIFIC in 1939 and finally her most memorable role in TV's BIG VALLEY. In 1983, she played in the ABC hit mini-series THE THORN BIRDS which did much to keep her in the eye of the public. She turned out an outstanding performance as Mary Carson. Barbara was nominated for four Academy Awards, though she never won. The roles she was nominated for were all roles in which Barbara turned in magnificent performances, but the "powers that be" always awarded the Oscar to someone else. She was considered gem to work with, for her serious but easygoing attitude on the set. She worked hard at being an actress and she never allowed her star quality to go to her head. However in 1982, Barbara was awarded an honorary Academy Award for "superlative creativity and unique contribution to the art of screen acting." Sadly, Barbara died on January 20, 1990 leaving 93 movies and a host of TV appearances as her legacy to us.

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IMDb mini-biography by
Denny Jackson
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Spouse
Robert Taylor (1939 - 1951) (divorced)
Frank Fay (1928 - 1935) (divorced)

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Trivia

Godmother of Bobbie Poledouris.

Sister-in-law of actress Caryl Lincoln.

Her stage name was inspired by a theatric poster that read: "Jane Stanwyck in 'Barbara Freitchie'"

Her nickname among co-workers was "Missy" or "The Queen"

In 1944, the government listed her as the nation's highest- paid woman, earning $400,000

Often called "The Best Actress Who Never Won an Oscar."

Died of congestive heart failure in Santa Monica CA.

According to biographical film Barbara Stanwyck: Fire and Desire (1991) (TV) Stanwyck became a model for women actors. Such stars as Sally Field and Virginia Madsen have publically pointed to Stanwyck as their model.

(1987) American Film Institute Life Achievement Award

Sister of actor Bert Stevens

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Personal quotes

"Eyes are the greatest tool in film. Mr. Capra taught me that. Sure, it's nice to say very good dialogue, if you can get it. But great movie acting - watch the eyes!"

"During Double Indemnity (1944) Fred MacMurray would go to rushes. I remember asking Fred, 'How was I?' 'I don't know about you - but I was wonderful!' Such a true remark. Actors only look at themselves."


Biography from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia:
Actress. (b. July 16, 1907, Brooklyn, N.Y., as Ruby Stevens; d. Jan. 20, 1990.) In the period during which she established her reputation as a dependable leading lady, Stanwyck specialized in hard-edged, brittle characters who were often revealed to have hearts of gold, but who also displayed the actress' trademark independence and determination. Many of her tart-tongued, workingclass heroines resembled those played by Joan Crawford in the 1930s, but Stanwyck managed to invest most of them with a winning vulnerability and other appealing traits that Crawford was less successful in portraying.

Her early years themselves seem like the stuff of a 1932 Warner Bros. programmer: Born Ruby Stevens, she was orphaned at a young age and raised by an older sister (a chorus girl) who occasionally left her to board with family friends. She quit school at age 13 and, after working in several menial jobs, wangled a spot in a chorus line. Intent on becoming an actress, she worked hard and eventually landed straight parts, finally winning the female lead in a popular Broadway melodrama, "The Noose." Stanwyck made her film debut (playing a dancer) in Broadway Nights (1927), but returned to the Great White Way for more stage successes. In 1928 she married vaudeville and stage star Frank Fay, with whom she went to Hollywood. Other early films include The Locked Door and Mexicali Rose (both 1929).

Stanwyck quickly developed a reputation as a dedicated, hard-working professional and came into her own under the direction of Frank Capra, in Ladies of Leisure (1930), The Miracle Woman (1931), Forbidden (1932), and most important, The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933), his bald-faced bid for an Academy Award and respectability. Stanwyck also spent time at Warner Bros., where her hard-boiled screen persona was developed in tough little programmers such as Night Nurse (1931), Ladies They Talk About and Baby Face (both 1933, at her best in the latter, as an experience-hardened woman who sleeps her way to the top of the business world). Other films from the first half of the thirties include Illicit, Ten Cents a Dance (both 1931), Shopworn, So Big, The Purchase Price (all 1932), Ever in My Heart (1933), A Lost Lady, Gambling Lady (both 1934), The Secret Bride, Woman in Red and Red Salute (all 1935).


In 1935 Stanwyck freed herself from the shackles of marriage by divorcing Fay, who had deeply resented her success as his own career dwindled to nothingness. She also left Warners to freelance, immediately snagging the title role in George Stevens' Annie Oakley (1935). She costarred with handsome Robert Taylor in His Brother's Wife (1936); their partnership extended beyond the screen, and they were married in 1939. After taking leads in A Message to Garcia, Banjo on My Knees, The Plough and the Stars (all 1936), and Internes Can't Take Money (1937, the first movie to feature the "Dr. Kildare" character, played here by Joel McCrea), she assumed the title role in Stella Dallas (also 1937), King Vidor's definitive version of the well-known weepie about mother love and sacrifice. Stanwyck earned her first Oscar nomination for her heart-rending performance, and entered the peak of her career. (Not that she didn't still make potboilers, as witness 1936's The Bride Walks Out 1937's That Is My Affair with Taylor, and Breakfast for Two 1938'sAlways Goodbye and P>Cecil B. DeMille starred her in his Western epic Union Pacific (1939), and she helped newcomer William Holden make a memorable debut in Golden Boy that same year. She was alternately tough and funny as a convicted shoplifter in Mitchell Leisen's Remember the Night (1940), written by Preston Sturges, who, as writerdirector, gave her a memorable role as a predatory card shark who sinks her teeth into girl-shy millionaire Henry Fonda in The Lady Eve (1941), a screwball-comedy classic just as funny today as it was a half-century ago. Later that year she played a sassy stripteaser opposite Gary Cooper in Ball of Fire another terrific comedy (which got her an Oscar nod), and was reunited with Cooper and Frank Capra for Meet John Doe in a tailor-made role.

Back in tights for Lady of Burlesque (1943), a ribald adaptation of Gypsy Rose Lee's best-selling mystery "The G-String Murders," Stanwyck next sported blond tresses as the treacherous temptress in Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity (1944), picking up her third Academy Award nomination. As the seductive schemer who cons morally lax insurance salesman Fred MacMurray into committing murder for her, she delivered what many believe to be her finest screen performance.

In the late 1940s Stanwyck's vehicles began to slip-at first almost imperceptibly, but by decade's end rather precipitously. A notable exception was Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), a taut thriller for which, as the intended victim of a murder plot she has overheard on the telephone, she got her fourth and final Oscar nomination. But Christmas in Connecticut (1945), The Bride Wore Boots (1946), The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), The Two Mrs. Carrolls, Cry Wolf, The Other Love (all 1947), B.F.'s Daughter (1948), The Lady Gambles, East Side, West Side and The File on Thelma Jordon (all 1949), even though they all had elements to recommend them, were on the whole not up to her earlier 1940s films.

The 1950s brought Stanwyck some interesting roles-notably in The Furies (1950), The Man With a Cloak (1951), Clash by Night (1952), Executive Suite (1954), and The Maverick Queen (1956)-but they were the exception to more standard fare like All I Desire, Titanic, Blowing Wild, Jeopardy, The Moonlighter (all 1953), Cattle Queen of Montana, Witness to Murder (both 1954), Escape to Burma, The Violent Men (both 1955), These Wilder Years There's Always Tomorrow (both 1956), Forty Guns, Trooper Hook (both 1957), and Walk on the Wild Side (1962).

She made only a few films in the 1960s-including 1964's Roustabout (with Elvis Presley) and The Night Walker (which reunited her with Robert Taylor, whom she'd divorced in 1952)-but achieved small-screen fame (and an Emmy) as the silvery-haired, indomitable frontier matriarch in "The Big Valley" (1965-69). Stanwyck was coaxed out of privacy to appear in the 1983 miniseries "The Thorn Birds" (for which she won an Emmy) and the spinoff series "Dynasty II: The Colbys" (1985-86). In 1982 she received an honorary Academy Award.

 

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