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A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907–1940

Victoria Wilson.
Publisher Simon & Schuster  
Format paperback
Product Dimensions 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.85 inches
ISBN 9781439194065
Pages/Publication Date 1044/2013
Daedalus Item Code 61830
This item is not available.
Frank Capra called her "the greatest emotional actress the screen has yet known." Barbara Stanwyck was one of Hollywood's most natural, timeless, and yet underrated stars; her astonishing film career began with the coming of sound and spanned 88 features—with four Best Actress nominations along the way—before she switched to the new medium of television. Publisher and editor Victoria Wilson ensures that the star receives the recognition she deserves with this first part of a superb two-volume life of Stanwyck—illustrated with 274 photos—delving deeply into her rich, complex life and exploring her extraordinary range of motion pictures, many of them iconic.

"A Life of Barbara Stanwyck will unquestionably remain the biography of record; beyond Wilson's excavation of so much that would otherwise have been lost, her book has a deep sensitivity to the seriousness and subtlety of Stanwyck's craft. This is the biography not of a Hollywood phenomenon but of a serious artist."—Bookforum

"860 glittering pages ... with a cliffhanger, creating eager anticipation for Ms. Wilson's concluding volume.... [This book] is not about the actress alone. It's bigger and splashier. Stanwyck knew the most notable directors, writers, actors, studio chiefs and Broadway impresarios of her day, and Ms. Wilson is interested in all of them. A remarkable array of still photographs present supporting characters like Florenz Ziegfeld, Annie Oakley, Clark Gable and Zeppo Marx, all of whom have their places in this account. An even more startling collection of movie ads and posters tells a riveting tale of sexism (about Baby Face: 'You've never seen anything like this frank, man-to-man story of a man-to-man girl!'), even as they chronicle Stanwyck's career.... The book describes how she evolved from an emotion-wringing actress into a sullen, bad-girl bombshell into Stella Dallas, arguably the most soapily self-sacrificing mother ever seen on camera.... Regarding Ms. Wilson's follow-up, no studio's publicity department could offer a better set of coming attractions."—NYTimes

"Wilson spent 15 years exhaustively researching the life and career of an iconic actress.... Born Ruby Stevens, orphaned at a young age, she was steeled by a traumatic childhood in Brooklyn. Wilson chronicles Stevens's transformation from chorus girl to Broadway actress, the name change, and other metamorphoses along the way to a career in 88 films, a troubled marriage to Broadway stage actor Frank Fay, and, later, a fairy-tale marriage to a young Robert Taylor as well as her work with legendary directors Frank Capra, Cecil B. DeMille, Preston Sturges, and Billy Wilder. Wilson also chronicles the metamorphoses of Broadway and moviemaking, with the advent of sound and then color, through the seismic social and cultural changes of Prohibition, the world wars, and the Great Depression. Richly researched, drawing on interviews with Stanwyck's friends, family, and colleagues as well as her journals and letters, this biography offers insights into the strengths and insecurities of a woman famous for her trademark toughness and vulnerability. Photographs enhance this fabulous and expansive examination."—Booklist (starred review)

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