Tuesday, July 14, 2009

After and Before: Ruby Tuesday

Barbara Stanwyck, looking uncharacteristically ruffled at winning an Emmy, 1983;

Ruby Stevens, looking like not much is going to startle her, circa 1926...

Stanwyck is something. Crawford was Metro's baby, just as much as Davies was Hearst's. Davis needed Warner's to give her the space to figure out who she was. Hepburn was nobody's baby, but she had as many failures as successes and was, until late in life, less universally a favorite than one might think. The exotics - Garbo, Dietrich, and their lesser sisters - traded in a very specific kind of currency, while the sex bombs - from Bow to Monroe and well after - had their own, essentially separate milieu. Ditto the musical ladies, whose ventures into other genres often perplex.

Stanwyck, though - she could be funny as hell, dangerous as any vamp, and way sexier than the average bottle blonde. Granted, she didn't sing, but she started out a hoofer and could acquit herself admirably on the floor. She ended up playing Big Tough Ladies, but she always seemed just in enough on the joke to be having fun.

What was her secret? Hard to say, but I think it helped that, start to finish, she gave every sign of knowing exactly what she wanted and of having every ability to get it herself.


  1. Didn't sing? What about "Drum Boogie"?

  2. I can only take it that neither of you are Martha Tilton fans.

    B.S. is heaven in Ball of Fire (those legs!), but that's about as much her singing voice as it is Lina Lamont's...

  3. Hadn't heard of the Liltin' Miss Tilton until your post caused me to Google her.

    Cafe Muscato - fun and educational! Mothers everywhere approve.