STANWYCK by Jane Ellen Wayne


Email this review


The author of Robert Taylor now tells the story of tough little, foul-mouthed Ruby Stevens, who became brassy, relentless Barbara Stanwyck (and Mrs. Robert Taylor). Ruby grew up under harsh circumstances, with four older siblings and a Jekyll-Hyde alcoholic father who deserted the family; she found herself an orphan in early childhood and was passed around to foster homes. An older sister taught her dancing and, skipping school, she went from various Times Square chorus lines to Ziegfeld Girl at 17. Soon she was getting raves for small acting jobs, but when she was 20, actor Rex Cherryman, the love of her life (thus far) died. On the rebound, she married Broadway's Favorite Son, Frank Fay, and off they went to Hollywood. Stanwyck became a smash hit after two flops, Fay smashed after one hit and two flops. He also became a raging drunk and a messy divorce bloomed. Then her agent, Zeppo Marx of the Marx Brothers, arranged a blind date for her with Taylor (four years her junior) and the great romance of her life was born. Taylor was saddled with a pretty-boy image, and was shaking in his boots as an Armand to Garbo's Camille, but Stanwyck boosted him in every way and after three years they married. (Taylor spent his wedding night with his distraught mother.) Meanwhile, Stanwyck made one of her greatest pictures, Stella Dallas, lost the Oscar to Luise Rainer for The Good Earth. But some of her greatest hits lay ahead, including The Lady Eve and Double Indemnity. When Taylor lost his heart to Lana Turner (who wouldn't have him), he made the first of many dents in his marriage; Barbara, however, carried on as if he were her ""son, lover, husband, companion and cook."" When Taylor thought he had two mothers and lost his virility, it was satisfactorily restored by Ava Gardner. After their divorce, Barbara billed Taylor for alimony to the day he died. A solid book, but far from deep, especially since La Stanwyck allows no interviews and will not sully Taylor.

Pub Date: Jan. 30th, 1985
Publisher: Arbor House