Barbara Stanwyck

American actress (1907–1990)

Barbara Stanwyck (born Ruby Catherine Stevens, July 16 1907January 20 1990) was an American actress of film, stage, and screen.

Barbara Stanwyck in Lady of Burlesque (1943)


  • I'm a tough old broad from Brooklyn. Don't try to make me into something I'm not. If you want someone to tiptoe down the Barkley staircase in crinoline and politely ask where the cattle went, get another girl.
    • Speaking in 1965 with the producers of The Big Valley; as quoted in Gary A. Yoggy, Back in the saddle: essays on Western film and television actors (1998), Page 122 [1]
  • People talk about 'my career,' but 'career' is too pompous a word. It was a job, and I have always felt very privileged to be paid for what I love doing.
    • As quoted in "Barbara Stanwyck: 'I'm a Tomorrow Woman" by Aljean Harmetz, The New York Times (March 22, 1981), p. A1
  • I could understand if they picked Katharine Hepburn, but of course she wouldn't do it. But when they asked me, I thought at first it was a mistake. I thought they got me mixed up with Bette Davis. Attention embarrasses me. I don't like to be on display. I was always an extrovert in my work, but when it comes time to be myself I'll take a powder every time.
    • Speaking with Rex Reed on April 12, 1984, the day she was to be honored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center; as quoted in "Barbara Stanwyck at Seventy-Four: 'Life Was My Only training'," New York Daily News (April 13, 1981), p. M6
  • I never got a Oscar. I never had an acting lesson. Life was my only training.
    • op. cit.
  • My only problem is finding a way to play my fortieth fallen female in a different way from my thirty-ninth.

Quotes About

  • There's nothing phony about her, either in life or on the screen.
  • Working with Barbara Stanwyck was one of the greatest pleasures of my career.
  • Here was an actress that never played just one side of a character. She always played the truth. I once asked Barbara Stanwyck the secret of acting, and she said, "Just be truthful, and if you can fake that, you've got it made."
    • Walter Matthau, speaking at the 15th annual AFI Life Achievement Award dinner, as quoted in "Ailing Stanwyck Keeps AFI Date; SRO Tribute to Veteran Actress" by Todd McCarthy, Variety (April 15, 1987), p. 224
  • With Barbara Stanwyck, here was a true pro, in her last year of screen stardom. We shot mostly on locations just to save money. One day, I saw her applying her own makeup beside the truck before the shoot. She looked up and just shrugged. Who could blame her? This production was cost-efficient.
    • Fay Wray, recalling one offscreen encounter during the shooting of Crime of Passion (1957); as quoted in Classic Film Stars: Interviews from Hollywood's Golden Era (2016) by James Bawden and Ron Miller, p. 273
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