Here goes a quick and fun list of 10 reasons (edited down from 1 Million) that Barbara Stanwyck remains the love of our lives!
1. Barbara Stanwyck Films
No. 1 Reason in itself has 87 Reasons to love Barbara Stanwyck. Obviously, you cannot fall in love with this Grande Dame until you have seen her in action, and her lexicon of cinematic offerings gives hungry viewers countless options to savor. Whether your preferred flavor is Noir, Comedy, Melodrama, or Suspense, Stany has your back, and she delivers every time. While there are certainly better films than others on her list, and her performances improve with age and experience, that fascinating Stanwyck quality is always present. Despite whatever shenanigans are taking place around her, you can’t help but remain transfixed by her, her character, and the element of danger and the unexpected that she brings to the table. You may not be sure just what she is going to say and do next, but you know whatever is bristling under the surface is good! Check out 20 Reasons To love Barbar Stanwyck in this List.
The Lady Eve (1941)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Ball of Fire (1941)
Stella Dallas (1937)
Baby Face (1933)
2. Barbara Stanwyck Life Story
The Ugly Duckling tale of Ruby Stevens’ transformation into Barbara Stanwyck is the stuff of Hollywood legend and the Ultimate Rags to Riches Story. In a world desperate for heroes, the tale of a strong woman in particular who overcomes great odds, including orphanhood and poverty, to achieve the status of the Highest Paid Woman in America (at age 37) still serves as inspiration for men and women alike. It is one thing to believe in the impossible, but seeing the impossible achieved by one so unique and brave certainly makes things like “hope,” “faith” and “dreams” easier to experience for the average guy or gal.
Byron and Ruby Stevens circa 1909
Scene in The Noose
Stanwyck as The Miracle Woman
Quintessential Femme Fatale
Hollywood Legend Barbara Stanwyck
with Honorary Oscar in 1982
3. Stanwyck Saved William Holden’s Career
Barbara Stanwyck was a loyal friend, for evidence, look no further than the tale of William Holden. Having Barbara as an ally saved his career! Producers were not happy with what they saw from Holden in the first rushes of Golden Boy (1939), which was his first lead role. On the verge of being fired, Bill’s only champion, fittingly, was Barbara who entered the metaphorical ring for him and told the producers she would quit if they canned him. The big wigs listened to Missy, of course, and with her encouragement and late-night tutoring, Bill went on to give a fine performance. It isn’t a stretch to assume that with Missy’s help, he gained the confidence and ability to grow into the Academy Award winning (1954) and nominated (1951 and 1977) actor he did. He was grateful to Barbara for the rest of his life, and they remained close friends until his death in 1981. Holden sent flowers to Stanwyck every April 1st, on the anniversary of the first day of filming of Golden Boy, until the day he died. What a beautiful story!
Golden Boy (1939)
Publicity Shot for Golden Boy
Stanwyck going over Golden Boy script with William Holden
Stanwyck and Holden at the Golden Globes
Holden Visits Stanwyck on the Set of All I Desire (1953)
William Holden at the Lincoln Center Tribute to Stanwyck in 1981
Stanwyck and Holden presenting at the 1977 Academy Awards
Friends for Life
4. Stanwyck is the Queen of Pre-Code and Film Noir
Nobody could hold a gun or tell someone to “get lost” in the movies like Stany. While she wasn’t the first femme fatale nor the last, the hard knock dame roles of this era seemed to have be written for her and, at the very least, her saucy and irreverent, tough-as-nails performances may have defined the fatale role more than any other actress of the era. This is perhaps because, as with all of Barbara’s performances, the character didn’t seem to be the now well-defined trope viewers so easily identify as the “spider woman.” She made every hard luck gal and bitter gutter climber still real and relatable. They were women first, foremost and always—never cliches. As such, female viewers continue vicariously living out their bad girl fantasies through her– and it is F. U. N.
AS Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity
File of Thelma Jordon (1950)
Crime of Passion (1957) Publicity Still
Sorry Wrong Number (1947) publicity still
As Femme Fatale Martha Ivers
Nobody Messes up with Stany
In Pre-code cult movie Ladies They Talk ABout (1932)
As Lily Powers in Baby Face (1932) the Gone with the Wind of Pre-Code
Don’t Mess with Stanwyck!
5. Barbara was a Fighter
“I am a tough broad from Brooklyn,” she once said. No BS, just Barbara. Having been through so much in her youth, she didn’t scare easy and wasn’t afraid to take on any kind of challenge—even if it internally terrified her. Whether on the screen or in the flesh, she seemed impossible to intimidate, but her hidden vulnerability only made her right hook all the more impactful. You always knew the living, breathing woman within was so much deeper than her outward projection. This made her, in opposition to other bad-ass females of the screen, truly strong and not just a showy shadowboxer. Intelligence, humor, sex-appeal, grace and guts… And she could do cartwheels! What is that, a sextuple threat?
6. Barbara was one half the Ultimate Power Couple of Classic Hollywood…Taywyck!
With her second husband Robert Taylor, she was part of the Brangelina of her time, (minus the 6 children). Audiences love nothing more than a beautiful power couple that they can’t get enough of, as it feeds their own personal Hollywood fantasies. While the relationship fizzled out, just as Brangelina did sixty years later, for a moment in time, Babs and Bob were the epitome of Hollywood royalty, made true romance seem possible, and loomed large on Mount Olympus as the most envied couple in existence. Jealousy and admiration… They are more similar than you’d think!
Taylor Visits Stanwyck on the Set of My Reputation
Out and About
Power Couple Glamour
His Brother’s Wife Publicity Still
At the Races
7. Because, Victoria Barkley!
Stany rocked as the ultimate Matriarch in “The Big Valley.” A pro at any age, she was holding court on Television in one of its most beloved western series of all time at a time when golden era stars still had their reservations about Television. While an unfortunate time slot is unanimously blamed for cutting this serious short before its time, Barbara still made a lasting impression on audiences, garnering multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her performance as the noble widow, Victoria. In a business where youth is favored, the middle-aged Barbara still stole the show and made her viewers desperately wish that they had grown up on her ranch.
Missy and Linda
The Barkley Family
The Big Valley Magazine Cover
Beautiful Barkley Family Publicity Still
Don’t mess with Victoria Barkley
8. A Star is Born
If it weren’t for Stanwyck, there would never have been one of the now most beloved cinematic stories of all time—so beloved, it has been made four times over! Based on the marriage of Stany and her first husband Frank Fay, it tells the heartbreaking saga of the impossible love affair between a falling star and a rising one. Whether one favors the portrayal of Janet Gaynor over Judy Garland, or Barbara Streisand over Lady Gaga, the true heroine will always be Barbara– the personified phoenix who rose from the ashes of a seemingly endless parade of tragedies and heartbreaks stronger than ever.
Mr. and Mrs. Frank Fay
Stanwyck and Fay in their Malibu home
Stanwyck and Fay – The Beginning of the End
Stanwyck on Divorce Court
9. She had Intergrity…and guts!
When faced with controversy, danger, discomfort, what-have-you, the average person is known to either avoid the issue (i.e. flight) or stand awkwardly until it goes away (i.e. freeze). Few and far between are the true Fighters and, as mentioned above, Barbara was one of them. She boldly stood by her African American studio assistant and friend Harriet Coray when the latter was not allowed to stay in the same hotel during the location shooting of To Please a Lady (1950). The hotel clerk instructed Harriet to stay in a “colored” hotel, as this particular one was for “whites only.” Barbara was outraged and asked the clerk to give her the name of the best “colored” hotel in town because she was going there with her friend. Needless to say, the discriminating policy at the hotel was overturned, and both friends were welcomed. Suffice it to say, Barbara can be admired for always putting her money where her mouth was and telling anyone who didn’t like it where they could plant their own lips. (Fun fact: Harriet was responsible for Stanwyck’s nickname Missy. They both worked together from 1939 through the 60s)!
Stanwyck and Harriet on the set of You Belong to Me (1941)
Missy and Harriet on the set of East Side, West Side (1948)
10. Elvis and Marilyn
You don’t get any cooler than Elvis Presley or Marilyn Monroe, the two biggest American Idols of all time. Not that Barbara needed any help being awesome, but having rubbed literal elbows with these two Superstars only makes her that much more amazing herself. Of course, it is not the fame by association that matters, it is her behavior toward them that really seals the deal. Barbara worked with Monroe in Clash by Night (1952), wherein the latter gave one of her earliest performances. Monroe said Barbara Stanwyck was the only veteran Hollywood star who was kind to her and treated her with respect. (10 points Barbara)! Missy would also work with Elvis Presley in Roustabout (1964). When most golden age stars wouldn’t be caught dead in a “cheesy” musical featuring a much bigger star, Barbara had no ego. She loved to work, she took every opportunity graciously, and certainly added depth to an otherwise run-of-the-mill feature. Elvis may have been “the King,” but Stany was always the Queen on and off screen.
Marilyn and Stanwyck
Elvis and Stanwyck
Having fun with Elvis
Bonus Track – More Reasons to Love Barbara Stanwyck
Because She looked sexy at any age!
Because She made Capra fall in love with her.
Because She preferred doing her own stunts!
That’s Our Stany
Like a Pro
Because She sang a song about a ‘G’ String and got away with it!
Because She loved horses, and Westerns were her favorite genre—go figure!
On the set of 40 Guns
On the Set of The Big Valley
Cattle Queen of Montana
Cattle Queen of Montana
Because the look on her face in Double Indemnity while her husband is being murdered in the backseat.
AND she pulled off that wig and lived to tell about it!
Best Femme Fatale Ever
Because after all these years, She remains a mystery.