Barbara Stanwyck ~ Hollywood's Toughest Dame


Barbara Stanwyck

 Barbara Stanwyck was born Ruby Catherine Stevens on July 16, 1907, in Brooklyn, New York. She was the youngest of five children. When she was a toddler her mother was killed and her father abandoned the family. She would spend her childhood in a series of foster homes. At the age of fourteen she dropped out of school and began working odd jobs. She had a botched abortion in 1922 which left her unable to have children. Barbara became a chorus girl and danced in The Ziegfeld Follies. During this time she posed nude for Alfred Cheney Johnston and other photographers. In 1927 she starred in the hit Broadway show Burlesque. The following year she married actor Frank Fay who helped her land a movie contract. Barbara quickly became a star playing strong, sexy women in movies like Night Nurse and Baby Face. She and Frank adopted a son, Dion, but their marriage ended in 1935.

Barbara StanwyckBarbara Stanwyck

Barbara Stanwyck

He was an alcoholic and a closeted gay man. The movie A Star Is Born was rumored to be based on her married to Fay. Although she won full custody of Dion they eventually became estranged. Barbara was nominated for an Academy Award in 1937 for her performance in the drama Stella Dallas. She would get three more Oscar nominations during her career but she never won. While making the film His Brother's Wife she fell in love with her costar Robert Taylor. They were married in May of 1939 even though he was bi-sexual. Barbara was also bi-sexual and her many lovers included Tallulah Bankhead and Joan Crawford. Her success continued with the hit films Double Indemnity, Ball Of Fire, and The Lady Eve. By 1944 she was Hollywood's highest paid actress.

Barbara StanwyckBarbara Stanwyck

Barbara Stanwyck

Barbara's marriage to Robert was rocky and she slashed her wrists when he had an affair with Lana Turner. They were divorced in 1951 but she would always claim he was the great love of her life. She spent the next twenty years living with her girlfriend and publicist Helen Ferguson. During the 1960s she starred in the TV series The Big Valley and won an Emmy for The Barbara Stanwyck Show. She was a lifelong Republican and devoted much of her time to charity work. Unfortunately in 1981 she was badly beaten by an intruder and a few years later her home burned down in a fire. Barbara died on January 20, 1990 from heart failure at the age of eighty-two. She was cremated and her ashes were scattered in California.


Barbara StanwyckBarbara Stanwyck