Barbara Stanwyck was born Ruby Catherine Stevens in Brooklyn, NY on July 16, 1907. Orphaned at the age of four, and partially raised in foster homes, she learned early on, the value of hard work.
In 1923 at the age of 16 she made her debut on stage in the chorus as a Ziegfeld Girl. Within a few years young "Barbara" 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 taking roles in talkies and received her first major break when Frank Capra chose her for his romantic drama Ladies Of Leisure (1930), which led to additional leading roles.
In 1937, she had the title role in Stella Dallas and received her first Academy Award nomination for best actress. She would be nominated three more times before finally being awarded an honorary Oscar in 1982 which was presented to her by a young John Travolta.
Although she only stood at 5'5" she towered over all of Hollywood. Following a string of hits that included Union Pacific, Ball of Fire and Meet John Doe, by 1944 Stanwyck had become the highest-paid woman in the United States.
As versatile as she was beautiful, her on screen presence was compelling regardless of the genre. Whether it was a comedy, melodrama, thriller or western, Ms. Stanwyck made them all her own. Her natural appearance and fluidity created riveting performances in whatever role she took on. During her 60 year career she appeared in 93 films.
As Stanwyck's film career declined during the 1950s, she moved to television with roles in Dick Powells Zane Grey Theatre, The Untouchables, and Wagon Train as well as her own television drama series The Barbara Stanwyck Show which earned her the first of her three Emmy awards.
Although she did veer back into film for the 1964 movie Roustabout with Elvis Presley, she settled comfortably into the small screen starring in shows like The Big Valley, The Colbys, Dynasty and The Thorn Birds which became vehicles for her remaining Emmys.
The American Film Institute named her the eleventh greatest classic Hollywood actress of all time. She died on January 20, 1990, at the age of 82.
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.