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Barbara Stanwyck & Helen Ferguson

andrew potter
Actress Barbara Stanwyck was often cast as a tough woman in a man’s world, always in command and control, whether playing a reporter (Meet John Doe), a criminal manipulator (Double Indemnity, The Lady Eve), or a husbandless rancher (The Big Valley). She played a lesbian in Walk on the Wild Side, and it wasn’t much of a stretch.

For nearly thirty years Stanwyck had an intimate relationship with her publicist Helen Ferguson. During much of that time Stanwyck was married—unhappily—to actor Robert Taylor.

While playing in The Noose, Stanwyck fell in love with her married co-star, Rex Cherryman, who became her fiancée in 1928. Cherryman had become ill early in 1928 and his doctor advised him to take a sea voyage to Paris where he and Stanwyck had arranged to meet. While still at sea, he died of septic poisoning, at the age of 31.

On August 26, 1928, Stanwyck married her Burlesque co-star, Frank Fay. She and Fay later claimed that they disliked each other at first, but became close after the sudden death of Cherryman. After moving to Hollywood, they adopted a son, Dion Anthony "Tony" Fay, on December 5, 1932. The marriage was a troubled one. Fay's successful career on Broadway did not translate to the big screen, whereas Stanwyck achieved Hollywood stardom. Fay engaged in physical confrontations with his young wife, especially when he was inebriated. Some claim that this union was the basis for A Star is Born. The couple divorced on December 30, 1935. Stanwyck won custody of their troubled adoptive son.


Barbara Stanwyck & Helen Ferguson

In 1936, while making the film His Brother's Wife (1936), Stanwyck became involved with her co-star, Robert Taylor. Following a whirlwind romance, the couple began living together. Stanwyck was hesitant to remarry after the failure of her first marriage. However, their 1939 marriage was rumored to have been arranged with the help of Taylor's studio MGM, a common practice in Hollywood's golden age. She and Taylor enjoyed time together outdoors during the early years of their marriage, and owned acres of prime West Los Angeles property. Their large ranch and home in the Mandeville Canyon section of Brentwood, Los Angeles is still referred to by the locals as the old "Robert Taylor ranch."

In 1950, Stanwyck and Robert Taylor mutually decided to divorce and she proceeded with the official filing of divorce papers. There have been many rumors regarding the cause of their divorce, but according to several of their friends, they simply grew apart after World War II. Taylor had romantic affairs and Stanwyck was also rumored to have had some affairs, but nothing has been confirmed. After the divorce, they acted together in Stanwyck's last feature film, The Night Walker (1964). Stanwyck never remarried and cited Taylor as the love of her life, according to her friend and costar, Linda Evans. She took his death in 1969 very hard and began a long break from film and television work.

Stanwyck was one of the most well-liked actors in Hollywood and was friends with many of her fellow actors (as well as crew members of her films and TV shows), including Joel McCrea and his wife Frances Dee, George Brent, Robert Preston, Henry Fonda (who had a lifelong crush on her and a rumored affair), James Stewart, Linda Evans, Joan Crawford, Jack Benny and his wife Mary Livingstone, William Holden, Gary Cooper, Fred McMurray, and many others.

Stanwyck had a romantic affair with actor Robert Wagner, whom she met on the set of Titanic (1953). Wagner, who was 22, and Stanwyck, who was 45 at the beginning of the relationship, had a four-year romance, which is described in Wagner's 2008 memoir, Pieces of My Heart. Stanwyck ended the relationship. In the 1950s, Stanwyck also, reportedly, had a one-night-stand with the much younger Farley Granger, which he writes about in his memoir, Include Me Out: My Life from Goldwyn to Broadway.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Stanwyck

Further Readings:

Stanwyck by Axel Madsen
Paperback: 484 pages
Publisher: iUniverse (July 25, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0595193986
ISBN-13: 978-0595193981
Amazon: Stanwyck

Barbara Stanwyck thrilled millions in scene after scene, picture after picture, over a six-decade career that took her from an impoverished childhood in the streets of Brooklyn to the pinnacle of Golden Age Hollywood. At one tough and vulnerable, straight-talking but emotionally elusive, she electrified every production in which she appeared, from Hollywood B-Flicks to such classics as Stella Dallas, Double Indemnity, and televisions The Thorn Birds. She was an early role model for women dissatisfied with the standard Hollywood heroine, and a tantalizing challenge to men who wanted more. Her honesty and authenticity resonate even more powerfully todaybut her complete story has never been told.

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