You probably remember Barbara Stanwyck from the 60’s television series “The Big Valley”.

I loved watching westerns with my Dad and Grandad.

It was terrific.  Lots of subtle messaging in the soap box operetta format along with high adventure and spirited dialogue.  Only Bonanza (in the early days) might have been better. /1 

In any event, Stanwyck has always fascinated me.  By reputation off camera she was true and kind.  She played strong willful characters that were typically possessed of an edge.

And, it bothers me that Robert Wagner has written a crappy book and told the world that he had a love affair with Stanwyck almost 60 years ago.  But, what can we expect from a smarmy ‘ol dude that hocks reverse mortgages on cable television?

As it turns out, My Nana and Grandad knew Stanwyck.  They were “old Sacramento”, and had many a pool party stuffed with Hollywood, political and sports luminaries that included Ronald Reagan and Max Baer (The boxer [although my Mom grew up with his son Max Baer Jr. who played Jethro on The Beverly Hillbillies”]).

…I recall my Nana and Mother saying that I looked like Max Baer (senior).

Moving on…

Stanwyck’s first husband was stage actor Frank Fay. They were married on August 26, 1928. On December 5, 1932 they adopted a son, Dion Anthony “Tony” Fay, who was one month old. The marriage was a troubled one. Fay’s successful career on Broadway did not translate to the big screen, whereas Stanwyck achieved Hollywood stardom. Also, Fay apparently physically abused Stanwyck – especially when he was inebriated. 

My Grandad once told me that the Fay and Stanwyck story was the basis for the book and movie(s) “A Star is Born”. 

Brian Patrick Cork


1/  I will be Blogging about Bonanza in the next week or so.  It was simply brilliant.  Way ahead of it’s time and shares some interesting parallels with The Big Valley.