Barbara Stanwyck was one of the Hollywood greats on equal par with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford though not given the same cult status. Adopted at the age of four after her mother was thrown out of a train carriage and her father disappeared later to be found working on the Panama Canal. Her name was Ruby back then and she had a younger brother, Byron, and an older sister Mildred. After the funeral Mildred who was only five years older went to work as a chorus girl to support her siblings. Ruby and Byron spent years in and out of Foster homes when Mildred had to go interstate. At the age of fourteen Ruby ran away from one of the foster homes and followed her on tour. She would apparently mimmic her sister’s moves backstage and dreamed of some day becoming a star herself. Meantime, however, she had to compensate herself with dreary office jobs. She auditioned for Ziegfeld follies and was accepted becoming a glamourous chorus girl. Stanwyck then went on to star Broadway where she was discovered by a Hollywood talent scout. In the Broadway play ‘Burlesque’ Stanwyck had received rave reviews which had stood her in good stead. Her first screen test was a success and , even though she didn’t get the part, had made quite an impression. Her first major film success was ‘ Baby Face’ followed by many memorable films including ‘Golden Boy’ with William Holden and ‘Meet John Doe’ with Garry Cooper. There was ‘Stella Dallas’ , ‘The Lady Eve’, and the cult classic ‘Double Indemnity’. Stanwyck’s film career spanned twenty years and was followed with a brilliant career on television as the matriarch in ‘Big Valley’.
She married Robert Taylor after two failed marriages. Their marriage lasted for fourteen years and was a very happy one by all counts until the war changed everything. Apparently while Robert was away serving as an officer they both had affairs with other people and it was Barbara who filed for divorce. They had had no children but Barbara had adopted a boy with her first husband named Dion. She and her adoptive son had never been very close and perhaps this had something to do with the fact that both had been orphans. Whatever the case there is no denying that Barbara Stanwyck was one hell of an actress and also very popular amongst her peers and co-stars. A tough balancing act. She was a lady who strived hard to be the best that she could possibly be and did not shrink away from competition. Not bad for an orphan.
Gabby Du Gaffe
© Renee Dallow ( Hybiscus Bloom ) 19/3/2015