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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Shout Out for Barbara Stanwyck

I totally realize that some of you either won't know who she was or will only remember The Big Valley, if you remember anything about her at all.  And that's okay.  But I remember.  In my opinion, she was the best actress ever to grace the silver screen. Today would have been her birthday.

She wasn't a great beauty, though the photo to the left certainly  shows her to her best advantage. She wasn't born into an "acting family," heck, she wasn't even born into a functional family, and yet she persevered. She was born Ruby Stevens on July 16, 1907 in Brooklyn, New York into poverty and a broken home.  She paid her dues, probably as much or more than any other actor of her time...or since.

Consummate professional. Perfectionist. At her best on the first take. Loved by director, co-star, gaffer and key grip alike. On time or early, totally prepared, generous in her scenes, the anti-Diva.

There are biographies out there, some flattering, some not, with allegations of strange behavior, of abandoning her adopted son and several other things. Not one of them, however, has anything negative to say about her acting or her professionalism. It's beyond reproach. She was Frank Capra's favorite actress, for Heaven's sake!  If that doesn't say it all, I don't know what does.

Missy, as she was known to family and friends, was nominated for the Academy Award four times, though she never won, and won three Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe. She was the recipient of honorary lifetime awards from the Motion Picture Academy, the Screen Actors Guild, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Golden Globes and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Of her over 85 films, not including TV series such as The Big Valley, The Barbara Stanwyck Show and The Colbys, I've seen all but two or three of them, though not for lack of trying. Some of my favorites, like Ball of Fire, The Lady Eve, Clash by Night, Meet John Doe, Golden Boy, Stella Dallas and Christmas in Connecticut, I've seen multiple times. Generally even if I like a movie, once is enough, but something about her draws me in. She played a fantastically diabolical evil person equally as well as an uproariously hilarious comedienne. She wasn't afraid to be vulnerable, dirty, without make-up and she refused any "enhancements" typical in Hollywood even back then. If people didn't like her the way she was, that was too bad.

She died January 20, 1990 of congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

There's plenty of information on her Wiki page (here) if you'd like details - and I didn't see anything obviously erroneous there - so I won't go into further detail, I just wanted to give her a "shout out." She didn't get nearly enough of those in her lifetime.

Happy Birthday, Missy!!! You were The Best.


  1. ♥ I love her too and Christmas In Connecticut is one of my favorite movies. I love it.


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