Barbara Stanwyck

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Barbara Stanwyck (born Ruby Katherine Stevens) (July 16 1907January 20 1990) was an American film and television actress.

She was born in New York City to Byron Stevens (the son of English immigrants) and Catherine McGee (whose parents were Irish). Her mother died when she was only four, not long before her father abandoned the family. She was raised by an elder sister but began working at age 13, and was a Broadway chorine in 1922 at age 15. She took her film name from the name of a play, Barbara Frietchie, about a fictional Civil War heroine. The play starred a British actress named Joan Stanwyck. Her first husband was established actor Frank Fay, and they were married from 1928 to 1936. They adopted a son, Dion, on December 5, 1932.

Stanwyck starred in almost a hundred films during her career and received four nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress: Stella Dallas (1937), Ball of Fire (1941), Double Indemnity (1944), and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948). She received an Academy Honorary Award "for superlative creativity and unique contribution to the art of screen acting" in 1982. In her later years, she also starred in television, notably in the 1960s Western series, The Big Valley. Her last starring role was in 1985, in The Colbys.

Her younger brother, Byron Stevens, became an actor in Hollywood, possibly with his sister's connections, but he never found fame.

During her life, Stanwyck was the subject of rumor that she was a lesbian, and that her marriage to the actor Robert Taylor was a "lavender marriage", designed to conceal the fact that both were homosexual. She was interviewed late in life by Boze Hadleigh for his book about Hollywood lesbians, and ended up throwing him out of her Santa Monica house. After her death, it was revealed that she in fact had had affairs with other women, including her long-time "assistant" Helen Ferguson.

Nevertheless, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Taylor enjoyed their time together outdoors, at least publicly, and were proud owners of many acres of prime West L.A. property. Stanwyck and Taylor owned a large ranch and home in the Mandeville Canyon section of Brentwood, California, that is still to this day referred to by locals as the "old Robert Taylor ranch."

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Barbara Stanwyck has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1751 Vine Street. In 1973, she was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity (1944)

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