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A Life of Barbara Stanwyck

Steel-True 1907-1940

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“860 glittering pages” (Janet Maslin, The New York Times): The first volume of the full-scale astonishing life of one of our greatest screen actresses; her work, her world, her Hollywood through an American century.

Frank Capra called her, “The greatest emotional actress the screen has yet known.” Now Victoria Wilson gives us the first volume of the rich, complex life of Barbara Stanwyck, an actress whose career in pictures spanned four decades beginning with the coming of sound (eighty-eight motion pictures) and lasted in television from its infancy in the 1950s through the 1980s. Here is Stanwyck revealed as the quintessential Brooklyn girl whose family was in fact of old New England stock…her years in New York as a dancer and Broadway star…her fraught marriage to Frank Fay, Broadway genius…the adoption of a son, embattled from the outset…her partnership with Zeppo Marx (the “unfunny Marx brother”) who altered the course of Stanwyck’s movie career and with her created one of the finest horse breeding farms in the west…her fairytale romance and marriage to the younger Robert Taylor, America’s most sought-after male star… Here is the shaping of her career through 1940 with many of Hollywood's most important directors, among them Frank Capra, “Wild Bill” William Wellman, George Stevens, John Ford, King Vidor, Cecil B. Demille, Preston Sturges, set against the times—the Depression, the New Deal, the rise of the unions, the advent of World War II and a fast-changing, coming-of-age motion picture industry.

And at the heart of the book, Stanwyck herself—her strengths, her fears, her frailties, losses, and desires—how she made use of the darkness in her soul, transforming herself from shunned outsider into one of Hollywood’s most revered screen actresses.

Fifteen years in the making—and written with full access to Stanwyck’s family, friends, colleagues and never-before-seen letters, journals, and photographs. Wilson’s one-of-a-kind biography—“large, thrilling, and sensitive” (Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Town & Country)—is an “epic Hollywood narrative” (USA TODAY), “so readable, and as direct as its subject” (The New York Times). With 274 photographs, many published for the first time.

Customer Reviews

No ending?

Parts of this very long, often very dry book were interesting and good to read. In many ways this book covers the times, the burgeoning movie business and many of those who were pioneers of film. At times, this story is not so much a biography of Barbara Stanwyck as much as it is a story of the film business. Still, I read the book because I was interested to learn about Barbara Stanwyck and much of the dry parts of this book did tie in to Stanwyck's life. The very worst and unforgivable part of this whole book, as long as the book was, is that there is no ending to the Barbara Stanwyck story!! This book ends in 1949 and Ms Stanwyck lived for another 30+? years. We are never told if her marriage to a younger man lasts, how her child grew up, how and when Ms Stanwyck even died. Not a satisfying book to read and I would not recommend it to anyone who is at all curious about the life of Barbara Stanwyck. Sorry I wasted my time and money.

To the reviewer who said no ending,,.. says it goes up to 1940, so why would it have an ending--like up to her death. This book is the first of two books about Stanwyck, so it only would cover the first half of her life.

unfocused and rambling

I've read many biographies of hollywood stars, and there is always some back story, hearsay, pieces missing in the timeline that the author has to fill in. Therein lies the skill of the biographer to quilt all the parts into a coherent story. Unfortunately, this is not. The first part describing the beginning of Ruby Stevens is "hurky-jerky". The names of friends who eventually become famous stars in their own rights is not noted. Why not include it in a footnote, if not in an apposition.

The history of Stanwyck is amazing and interesting especially as it parallels the rise of Hollywood. The problem is that the set up for B.S's movie roles go on too long. While the information might be interesting, it detracts from the story. All this other information should have been handled differently and more creatively. AS it stands its like reading two books that have been mashed into one.

A Life of Barbara Stanwyck
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Nov 12, 2013
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Seller: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
  • Print Length: 1056 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings