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Barbara Stanwyck (born Ruby Catherine Stevens; July 16, 1907 – January 20, 1990) was an American actress, model, and dancer. A stage, film and television star, she was known during her 60-year career as a consummate and versatile professional for her strong, realistic screen presence. A favorite of directors including Cecil B. DeMille, Fritz Lang and Frank Capra, she made 85 films in 38 years before turning to television. Stanwyck got her start on the stage in the chorus as a Ziegfeld girl in 1923 at age 16 and within a few years was acting in plays. She was then cast in her first lead role in Burlesque (1927), becoming a Broadway star. Soon after that, Stanwyck obtained film roles and got her major break when Frank Capra chose her for his romantic drama Ladies of Leisure (1930), which led to additional lead roles. In 1937 she had the title role in Stella Dallas and received her first Academy Award nomination for best actress. In 1941 she starred in two successful screwball comedies: Ball of Fire with Gary Cooper, and The Lady Eve with Henry Fonda. She received her second Academy Award nomination for Ball of Fire, and in recent decades The Lady Eve has come to be regarded as a romantic comedy classic with Stanwyck's performance called one of the best in American comedy. By 1944, Stanwyck had become the highest-paid woman in the United States. She starred alongside Fred MacMurray in the seminal film noir Double Indemnity (1944), playing the smoldering wife who persuades MacMurray's insurance salesman to kill her husband. Described as one of the ultimate portrayals of villainy, it is widely thought that Stanwyck should have won the Academy Award for Best Actress rather than being just nominated. She received another Oscar nomination for her lead performance as an invalid wife overhearing her own murder plot in the thriller film noir, Sorry, Wrong Number (1948). After she moved into television in the 1960s, she won three Emmy Awards – for The Barbara Stanwyck Show (1961), the western series The Big Valley (1966), and miniseries The Thorn Birds (1983).

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