Barbara Stanwyck didn't care for Bette Davis and Joan Crawford's horror movies

Westerns better suited Stanwyck's interests and taste.

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Although it is still true today, the '60s and '70s had very few roles for women that didn't fit the trope of a young ingenue. Especially in the past, the world of movies was unfairly inhospitable to ladies over 40.

However, in 1965, the then-58-year-old Barbara Stanwyck found refuge on TV's The Big Valley. The medium provided her with a new home, and she took shelter from the storm of being a "woman of a certain age" in Hollywood. Where she'd struggled to find film roles that suited her tastes, as Victoria Barkley on The Big Valley, Stanwyck was able to continue showcasing her commanding presence. She also commanded the respect of everyone onset, which may not have been the case had she chosen to pursue other creative outlets.

For instance, around this time period, one of the few bankable genres for a woman Stanwyck's age was horror. An entire subgenre rose to make use of aging starlets of Old Hollywood. This cycle of movies, called "hagsploitation," is oftentimes also referred to as Grande Dame Guignol and hag horror. And while there are certainly examples of successful films within this subgenre, Barbara Stanwyck wanted more.

Compared to contemporaries such as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, who willingly exploited their age in movies such as What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Strait-Jacket, Barbara Stanwyck just wasn't a fan. Westerns, it seems, were more her style.

"I'm crazy about old movies and watch quite a bit of television," Stanwyck told The Kansas City Star in 1967. "I especially like the Westerns... both the movies and the competition, the series. I want to see what the competition's doing.

As for horror, well, Stanwyck "really doesn't care about doing the type of thing" Crawford and Davis found profitable during the era. 

"The problem is," said Stanwyck, "that they really don't write good roles for women anymore, and if they don't write them, where the hell are you going to get a role? Sure, I'd like to do movies, but when you get my age you have to be realistic. It's a different plateau, and it's different to get a role in a movie. 

As for her dreams at that particular moment in her career, Stanwyck wanted one more bite at the apple.

"I'm not going to do a version of Mother Knows Best... But I would like one great part before I take the veil." 

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obectionoverruled 10 months ago
Well there’s no doubt BS was a legend. She was a tough broad on and off the screen. But I think Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were masterful as the two old faded stars living together in their private hell in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. The other great nag flick of its genre was Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte, also with Davis but featuring the other Joan - this time Fontaine. Love those two films.
Stoney 11 months ago
She was in an excellent and underrated William Castle movie that Svengoolie showed a few years ago, "The Night Walker." Maybe closer to psychological thriller than horror, but it is absolutely worth watching.
Moody 11 months ago
Barbara Stanwyck was a class act. There isn't anything I've seen her in that I haven't liked. She has such a great presence on screen whether it's tv or film.
LmerFudd 11 months ago
She is a class act, I remember how stunned she was when she beat out Ann Margret for an Emmy and how she lauded Ann's performance during her acceptance speech.
Runeshaper 11 months ago
Stanwyck was awesome! A true gem.
edsawyerfan1 11 months ago
I like The Big Valley but why did Eugene
Barkley disappear with no explanation just like Eugene Belvin disappeared from
Happy Days with no explanation?
harlow1313 edsawyerfan1 11 months ago
Actually, this was explained in a rarely-played and controversial episode.

Eugene went nuts. He lives in the attic, where Silas cares for him.
dougandandyfan harlow1313 11 months ago
I remember that Eugene Barkley was played by Charles Briles.
Also I'm a fan of Moose (Barry Greenberg) on season one only of
Happy Days. I also liked the epilogue to Guess Who's Coming To Visit when Moose dances with a girl played by Carey Williams. Carey Williams slightly resembles actress
Carol Williams who played MARALEE in the season 3 episode of Happy Days called Fonzie's New Friend.Barry Greenberg and Tom Bosley and Jim Backus and David
Hartman and Sebastian Cabot were in the 1973 TV Movie remake of Its A Wonderful Life. Barry Greenberg played Alfred the janitor on that
Movie.Also there were 2 different characters with the name of
Moose :
Moose :Barry Greenberg
Moose :Clint Howard
Moody edsawyerfan1 11 months ago
I remember answering this very same question from one of your other user names. I don't remember which, you've used so many. He went back east to attend college. It was mentioned a few times in the first couple of seasons. Then he was written out of the show.
Andybandit 11 months ago
When Faye Dunaway played Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest. It was Joan Crawford's daughter who was living a horror story, because Joan Crawford was abusive to her daughter. No more wire hangers.
Cougar90 11 months ago
My Mom was a big fan of hers and as I gotten older I can see why. Miss Stanwyck was always classy.
texasluva 11 months ago
Barbara Stanwyck played in many great movies during her rein. Always on the lookout for them. Though 3 of them were in the Horror genre. The Night Walker (1964)- The House That Would Not Die (1970) and A Taste of Evil (1971).
Deleted 11 months ago
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harlow1313 11 months ago
"Ms Stanwyck got to co-star in a movie with Elvis Presley..."

Well, Presley films hardly strike me as elevation from the horror genre.

Of Course, "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" really creeped out we boys in the sixties. We used to discuss that film.
teire 11 months ago
I remember her in The Thorn Birds in the early eighties. Loved her at every stage of her career, great actress, she could play anything.
JustGeri teire 11 months ago
She was marvelous in The Thorn Birds. I miss those mini-series on network TV.
justjeff 11 months ago
This is why she was always referred to as MISS Barbara Stanwyck... truly a classy, and commanding presence...
cperrynaples 11 months ago
Stanwyck apperantly forgot about The Night Walker, which was directed by William Castle! Fun Fact: Joan Crawford turned it down before being fired from Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte!
cperrynaples cperrynaples 11 months ago
PS If I'm not mistaken, I believe Svengoolie screened this movie!
Moody cperrynaples 11 months ago
Maybe she was trying to forget.
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