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Barbara Stanwyck

Barbara Stanwyck

Barbara Stanwyck (born Ruby Catherine Stevens) was an American actress, model and dancer. A stage, film, and television star, she was known during her 60-year career as a consummate and versatile professional for her strong, realistic screen presence. A favorite of directors including Cecil B. DeMille, Fritz Lang, and Frank Capra, she made 85 films in 38 years before turning to television. Stanwyck made her debut on stage in the chorus as a Ziegfeld girl in 1923, at age 16, and within a few years was acting in plays. Her first lead role, which was in the hit Burlesque (1927), gained praise and established her as a Broadway star. In 1929, she began acting in talking pictures and Frank Capra chose her for his romantic drama Ladies of Leisure (1930). This led to additional leading roles which launched her career and increased her profile such as Night Nurse, Baby Face, and the controversial The Bitter Tea of General Yen. In 1937, she played the self-titled role in Stella Dallas for which she earned her first Academy Award nomination for best actress. In 1939, she starred as the lead in Union Pacific, the first film to win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1941, she starred in two successful screwball comedies: Ball of Fire with Gary Cooper, and The Lady Eve with Henry Fonda. She received her second Academy Award nomination for Ball of Fire, and in the decades since its release The Lady Eve has come to be regarded as a comedic classic with Stanwyck's performance called one of the best in American comedy. Other successful films during this era of her career are Remember the Night (1940), Meet John Doe (1940) and You Belong to Me (1941), teaming again in the latter two films with Cooper and Fonda, respectively. By 1944, Stanwyck had become the highest-paid actress in the United States. She starred alongside Fred MacMurray in the seminal film noir Double Indemnity (1944), playing the smoldering wife who persuades MacMurray's insurance salesman to kill her husband. In 1945, she starred in the hit film Christmas in Connecticut. She later received critical acclaim for her performance in the 1947 film The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. She garnered her last Oscar nomination for her lead performance as an invalid wife in the thriller film noir, Sorry, Wrong Number (1948). Throughout the 1950s, she starred in a string of highly successful films: Titanic (1953), All I Desire (1953), Executive Suite (1954) and There's Always Tomorrow (1956). However, Stanwyck’s film career declined as the decade ended and she moved into television work by the 1960s, where she won three Emmy Awards – for The Barbara Stanwyck Show (1961), the western series The Big Valley (1966), and the miniseries The Thorn Birds (1983). She received an Honorary Oscar in 1982, the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1986 and was the recipient of several other honorary lifetime awards. She was ranked as the 11th greatest female star of classic American cinema by the American Film Institute. An orphan at the age of four, and partially raised in foster homes, she always worked; one of her directors, Jacques Tourneur, said of Stanwyck, "She only lives for two things, and both of them are work."
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