1907 - 1990
Image - Stanwyck c. 1938
Backyard at Marwyck
Barbara Stanwyck was born Ruby Catherine Stevens in Brooklyn, New York on July 16, 1907. Orphaned at the age of four, she and her siblings were placed in foster care. Years later while living with her older sister Millie, who was a showgirl, Barbara learned to dance. She bounced in and out of school until age 14 then quit school to work on stage.
While performing in a chorus line, the great Broadway producer David Belasco noticed her and cast her in his play "The Noose." The play was a smash hit and Barbara became a star at age 20. The 1927 Broadway stage play, “Burlesque”, sky-rocked her career as a cabaret dancer and actress.
In 1928, she married comedian Frank Fay and soon departed New York for Hollywood. Immediately Barbara's movie career exploded with leading roles in "The Locked Door" and "Mexicali Rose." During the economic struggles of the 1930's she played women who overcame poverty and adversity thus she became a symbol of the triumphant underdog. She made three to four movies a year and was known as one of the hardest working actresses in Hollywood. Due to shrewd financial investments Barbara became one of the wealthiest women in the United States.
The Fays adopted a son, Anthony Fay (Dion), in the early 1930’s. By 1935 the marriage crumbled due to her success and Frank Fay’s drinking problem that made him unemployable. The divorce was finalized on December 31, 1936. The film "A Star is Born" is said to have been modeled on their marriage.
In 1936, with partners Marion and Zeppo Marx, Stanwyck purchased 130 acres in Northridge, California to build two adjacent homes and a state of the art thoroughbred ranch to manager Harry S. Hart's ambitious specifications.