While researching Barbara Stanwyck's TV career for our upcoming History Of Television show
(which leads into our Stanwyck Noir Essential Cinema Series
), I found this interesting fan magazine article
about Stanwyck's feelings about her BIG VALLEY costar Lee Majors. Not sure where or when it is from, but I did find contemporaneous articles about Majors' legal action over the article so it seems to be the real McCoy.
More interesting than the shade thrown at her co-star were the mentions of Stanwyck's on set demeanor. I had always heard that she knew every crew member's name, and was the hardest worker on the lot, but there are some more fun tidbits in the article that I hadn't heard.
Several years ago on a boiling summer day, some of the grips working under the white hot arc lights on the Barbara Stanwyck film took off their shirts. An officious assistant director dressed then down, asking how they dared take off their shirts when they were in the presence of Miss Stanwyck.
"On a day as hot as this they can strip naked," Miss Stanwyck said, and sent out for beer for the entire crew.
"Missy" Stanwyck ignored his tactlessness when it was merely directed towards herself. But she refused to tolerate his lack of consideration when it affected the crew.
She gave him a bitter tongue-lashing in front of the entire crew. It included phrases like: "You have to learn to crawl before you can walk. Then, maybe you can run a little. You're not a star yet. I am a star. Do you want to see what a star can do? One of us is going to get out of this television series and I don't care which one of us it is!
Lee's agent made him apologize to Barbara Stanwyck a few days later. She accepted the apology. But Lee's insensitivity had closed a door. He had lost for himself all the help and consideration that one of Hollywood's great stars was offering him.