Barbara Stanwyck Biography, Wiki, Age, Occupational Life, Nationality and General Wellbeing

Barbara Stanwyck Biography Wiki Age Occupational Life Nationality And General Wellbeing

Barbara Stanwyck born Ruby Catherine Stevens; July 16, 1907 – January 20, 1990) was an American actress, model and dancer. A stage, film, and television star, during her 60-year professional career she was known for her strong, realistic screen presence and versatility. She was a favorite of directors, including Cecil B. DeMille, Fritz Lang, and Frank Capra, and made 85 films in 38 years before turning to television.

Profile Summary



Ruby Catherine Stevens

July 16, 1907

Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died January 20, 1990(aged 82)

Santa Monica, California, U.S.
  • Actress
  • model
  • dancer
Years active 1923–1986
Political party Republican
  • Frank Fay

    (m. 1928; div. 1935)

  • Robert Taylor

    (m. 1939; div. 1952)

Children 1

Early Life of Barbara Stanwyck

Stanwyck was born Ruby Catherine Stevens on July 16, 1907, in Brooklyn, New York. She was the fifth – and youngest – child of Kathryn Ann (née McPhee) and Byron E. Stevens, both working-class parents. Her father, of English descent, was a native of Lanesville, Massachusetts, and her mother, of Scottish-descent, was an immigrant from Sydney, Nova Scotia. She had three older sisters, Laura Mildred (Smith), Viola (Merkent), Mabel (Munier) and one older brother, Malcolm Byron (known as “Bert”).

Barbara Stanwyck Biography Wiki Age Occupational Life Nationality And General Wellbeing

Barbara Stanwyck

When Ruby was four, her mother died of complications from a miscarriage after she was knocked off a moving streetcar in 1911 by a drunkard. Two weeks after the funeral, her father joined a work crew digging the Panama Canal and was never seen again by his family.

Ruby and her older brother, Malcolm Byron (later nicknamed “By”) Stevens, were raised by their eldest sister Laura Mildred (known as Mildred; later Mildred Smith), who died of a heart attack at age 45. When Mildred got a job as a showgirl, Ruby and Byron were placed in a series of foster homes (as many as four in a year), from which young Ruby often ran away. She attended various public schools in Brooklyn, where she received uniformly poor grades and routinely picked fights with the other students.

Ruby toured with Mildred during the summers of 1916 and 1917, and practiced her sister’s routines backstage. Watching the movies of Pearl White, whom Ruby idolized, also influenced her drive to be a performer. At the age of 14, she dropped out of school, taking a package wrapping job at a Brooklyn department store. Ruby never attended high school, “although early biographical thumbnail sketches had her attending Brooklyn’s famous Erasmus Hall High School.”

Soon afterward, she took a filing job at the Brooklyn telephone office for $14 a week, which allowed her to become financially independent. She disliked the job; her real goal was to enter show business, even as her sister Mildred discouraged the idea. She then took a job cutting dress patterns for Vogue magazine, but customers complained about her work and she was fired. Ruby’s next job was as a typist for the Jerome H. Remick Music Company; she reportedly enjoyed the work, but her continuing ambition was show business, and her sister finally gave up trying to dissuade her.

Early Challenges Of Barbara Stanwyck Growing Up

Orphaned at the age of four and partially raised in foster homes, she always worked. One of her directors, Jacques Tourneur, said of her, “She only lives for two things, and both of them are work.” She 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), established her as a Broadway star.

Barbara Stanwyck’s Numerous Career Choices

Ziegfeld girl and Broadway success

In 1923, a few months before her 16th birthday, Ruby auditioned for a place in the chorus at the Strand Roof, a nightclub over the Strand Theatre in Times Square. A few months later, she obtained a job as a dancer in the 1922 and 1923 seasons of the Ziegfeld Follies, dancing at the New Amsterdam Theater. “I just wanted to survive and eat and have a nice coat”, Stanwyck said. For the next several years, she worked as a chorus girl, performing from midnight to seven a.m. at nightclubs owned by Texas Guinan. She also occasionally served as a dance instructor at a speakeasy for gays and lesbians owned by Guinan. One of her good friends during those years was pianist Oscar Levant, who described her as being “wary of sophisticates and phonies”.

Film Career

Stanwyck’s first sound film was The Locked Door (1929), followed by Mexicali Rose, released in the same year. Neither film was successful; nonetheless, Frank Capra chose Stanwyck for his film Ladies of Leisure (1930). Her work in that production established an enduring friendship with the director and led to future roles in his films. Other prominent roles followed, among them as a nurse who saves two little girls from the villainous chauffeur (Clark Gable) in Night Nurse (1931). In Edna Ferber’s novel brought to screen by William Wellman, she portrays small town teacher and valiant Midwest farm woman Selena in So Big! (1932).

Personal And Marital Life of Barbara Stanwyck

While playing in The Noose, Stanwyck reportedly fell in love with her married co-star Rex Cherryman. When Cherryman took ill in early 1928, his doctor advised him to take a sea voyage, so Cherryman set sail for Le Havre intending to continue on to Paris, where he and Stanwyck had arranged to meet. While at sea he contracted septic poisoning and died shortly after arriving in France at the age of 31.

On August 26, 1928, Stanwyck married her Burlesque co-star Frank Fay. She and Fay later claimed that they had disliked each other at first, but became close after Cherryman’s death. Fay was Catholic so Stanwyck converted for their marriage. She was reportedly unable to have children, and one biographer alleges the cause of her infertility was a botched abortion at the age of 15 that resulted in complications. After moving to Hollywood, the couple adopted a ten-month-old boy on December 5, 1932. They named him Dion, later amending the name to Anthony Dion, nicknamed Tony. The marriage was troubled; Fay’s successful Broadway career did not translate to the big screen, whereas Stanwyck achieved Hollywood stardom. Fay was reportedly physically abusive to Stanwyck, especially when he was inebriated. Some claim that the marriage was the basis for dialogue written by William Wellman, a friend of the couple, for A Star Is Born (1937) starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. The couple divorced on December 30, 1935. Stanwyck won custody of their son, whom she raised with a strict, authoritarian hand and demanding expectations. Stanwyck and her son became estranged after his childhood, meeting only a few times after he became an adult. He died in 2006. Wrote Richard Corliss, the child “resembled her in just one respect: both were, effectively, orphans.”


Stanwyck’s retirement years were active, with charity work outside the limelight.

In 1981, in her home in the exclusive Trousdale section of Beverly Hills, she was awakened during the night by an intruder who struck her on the head with his flashlight, forced her into a closet, and absconded with $40,000 in jewels.

In 1982, while filming The Thorn Birds, Stanwyck inhaled special-effects smoke on the set that may have caused her to contract bronchitis, which was compounded by her cigarette-smoking habit. She began smoking at the age of nine and stopped just four years before her death.

Stanwyck died on January 20, 1990, at the age of 82, from congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. She had indicated that she wanted no funeral service. In accordance with her wishes, her remains were cremated and the ashes scattered from a helicopter over Lone Pine, California, where she had made some of her Western films.