Tag Archives: Barbara Stanwyck

Classic Hollywood #105 – Barbara Stanwyck Receives An Oscar

Barbara Stanwyck Thanks “Golden Boy” For Her Honorary Oscar 1982

In a six decade career Barbara Stanwyck (1907-1990) received four Academy Award nominations for Best Actress in a leading role.  The films were Stella Dallas (1937); Ball of Fire (1941); Double Indemnity (1944) and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948). She did not win for any of these great performances in fine pictures.

Stanwyck and William Holden starred together in the 1939 film Golden Boy. It was Holden’s first starring role. And he was almost fired. But Barbara Stanwyck insisted Holden stay on the film. The two became lifelong friends.

At the April 3, 1978 Academy Awards presentation, William Holden and Barbara Stanwyck were reunited as co-presenters for the award for best sound.

This was the era before everyone handing out awards had every word scripted for them and was littered with politically correct, back-slapping fake accolades and bad jokes. What happened next was completely genuine, unrehearsed and quite touching as you will see by Stanwyck’s reaction.

Finally four years later on March 29, 1982, the Academy recognized Stanwyck with an honorary Oscar for “superlative creativity and unique contribution to the art of screen acting.” Continue reading

“Good Acting Is Like Good Love-Making” – Old Time Movie Stars Reflect On Acting

 Actors Talking About Acting

Heartbreak Pair in New Air Epic – William Holden reaches new stellar heights as a flying cadet whose career is temporarily shattered through his love for Veronica Lake in Paramount’s “I Wanted Wings” an Arthur Hornblow, Jr., production based on the Army Air Corps training and tactics. Blonde and sultry newcomer, Miss Lake, plays menace in piece. photo – Paramount studios

William Holden – “The best actors I know have no style but that of genuine professionalism. They act each role according to the script. And if they do have a style, it is so much a part of their personality it can’t be noticed.” (Atlanta Constitution April 22, 1956)

If you hear people lament that today’s movie stars don’t stack up to the old stars, there are probably many reasons for the lack of charisma or star power today. Regardless of their approach to acting, the old-time Hollywood stars all had one thing in common: they came through the studio system, where they were trained and “groomed” to be and act like movie stars. How each actor accomplished that varied from actor to actor.

Whatever techniques they used to develop their acting style; “The Method,” “Chekhov,” or simply showing up and knowing your lines, movie stars usually could provide philosophy or insight into their craft when being interviewed by the press. Whether they had honed their skills on the legitimate stage or come straight from a farm, to be a star you had to learn and understand something about acting.

Here are twelve old time movie stars expressing their views, sometimes simply, other times with great insight about acting.

Veronica Lake – “I’m no great actress. I just had a movie job dumped into my lap, the public seemed to like me, and that’s all there was to it.”  (Wide World Features May 3, 1942)

Rod Steiger – “Good acting is like good love-making. Leave yourself alone and explore. Do it. Don’t watch yourself do it. Don’t think about yourself doing it. You just go from moment to moment. But don’t take anything for granted either, especially not in acting. That’s when you get your ass kicked.” (Los Angeles Times  September 15, 1994)

Yul Bryner – “I’m not of the can-kicking, shovel-carrying, ear-scratching, torn T-shirt school of acting. There are very few real men in the movies these days. Yet being a real man is the most important quality an actor can offer on the screen.”  (Detroit Free Press April 27, 1958)

Paul Muni – “Acting is a scientific art. It’s a matter of trial and error. You try out your effects like a man who is experimenting on a new chemical formula. I enjoy the experimenting.”  (Boston Globe Feb. 6, 1949)

Barbara Stanwyck on reluctantly accepting the role of the “no good” Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity – “Once I said yes I was awfully glad. During the making of it Fred (MacMurray) would go to the rushes. I remember once the next day he said, ‘You’re not acting, you’re enjoying it.’ And I remember saying ,’Fred, really, how was I?’  And very candidly he looked at me and said, ‘I don’t know about you- but I was wonderful!’ And that was such a true remark. Actors only look at themselves.”  (Los Angeles Times April 5, 1987)

Spencer Tracy – “I’ve always played the same character. Larry Olivier says the way to act is learn your lines and get on with it. I’m Spencer Tracy with some deference to the character. When a person says he’s an actor – he’s a personality. The whole idea is to show your personality. There are people who are much better technically, but who cares?  Nobody cares.” (Los Angeles Times  November 18, 1962) Continue reading