7/16/1907 to 1/20/1990
Barbara is remembered primarily as the matriarch of the family known as the Barkleys on the TV western "The Big Valley" (1965), where she played Victoria, and from the hit drama "The Colbys" (1985). But she was known to millions of other fans for her movie career, which spanned the period from 1927 until 1964, after which she appeared on television until 1986. It was a career that lasted for 59 years.
She was born Ruby Stevens on July 16, 1907, in Brooklyn, New York. She went to work at the local telephone company for $14 a week, but she wanted to enter show business. When not working, she pounded the pavement in search of dancing jobs. The persistence paid off, at 17, Barbara was hired as a chorus girl for the princely sum of $40 a week, much better than the wages she was getting from the phone company.
In 1928 Barbara moved to Hollywood, where she was to start one of the most lucrative careers filmdom had ever seen. She was an extremely versatile actress who could adapt to any role. Barbara was equally at home in all genres, from melodramas, to thrillers and she also excelled in comedies and westerns.
Barbara was considered a gem to work with for her serious but easygoing attitude on the set. She worked hard at being an actress, and she never allowed her star quality to go to her head. She was nominated for four Academy Awards, though she never won. In 1982 she was awarded an honorary Academy Award for "superlative creativity and unique contribution to the art of screen acting." Barbara died on January 20, 1990, leaving 93 movies and a host of TV appearances as her legacy.