Monday, July 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Babs!

I can't believe I missed this (or that certain, ahem, other people missed it), but last Friday would have been the 103rd birthday of my all-time favorite movie star, Barbara Stanwyck. Born in Brooklyn, she was orphaned when she was a toddler (her mother was pushed off a streetcar by a drunk, her father vanished into the wilds of Panama), and raised by a variety of relatives and in a series of foster homes until she started tagging along on tour with her chorus girl sister. She got hired herself in the 1922 edition of the Ziegfeld Follies (at age 15! Making this an All Follies day on my blog!). She also worked as a dancer in Tex Guinan's nightclubs for several, no doubt, exciting years. She got her first straight acting gig in a play called The Noose, when the producers thought that some stunt casting would garner them some publicity, so they hired Barbara, a real chorus girl to play the part of a chorus girl (and they named her, too - she had been born Ruby Stevens). The rest, as they say, is history. Excelling in comedy, drama, noir, westerns, you name it, Barbara was the best. if you haven't seen The Lady Eve or Double Indemnity or The Strange Love of Martha Ivers there's something wrong with you. So watch them. Now. If you have and didn't like them, you are clearly reading the wrong blog.

Below, find part one of Baby Face, her 1933 pre-code corporate pot-boiler (also featuring a very young, non-cowboy John Wayne). You can watch the rest of the movie on YouTube.


miconian said...

Ah. In this clip, she calls herself a "ball of fire," which is the name of the 1941 movie she starred in with Gary Cooper. I never saw that connection, but it seems unlikely to be a coincidence.

That Fuzzy Bastard said...

Baby Face is such a fun, fun movie. I adore all those shots craning up along the outside of the building as she literally sleeps her way to the top.