Barbara Stanwyck Gilyard was an American actress, model, and dancer who had a long and successful career in stage, film, and television. She was born on December 6, 1935, and died in Norwalk, California, on April 29, 2012. She was not related to Barbara Stanwyck, the famous actress who starred in The Big Valley and The Thorn Birds. And she was the mother of actor Clarence Gilyard Jr., who is best known for his roles in Die Hard, Walker, Texas Ranger, and Matlock.

In this post, we will discuss the life and career of Barbara Stanwyck Gilyard. We will cover her early life and career, personal life and relationships, television career, and later years. Additionally, we will include a biography table summarizing her accomplishments and milestones.

Early Life and Career

Barbara Stanwyck Gilyard was born Ruby Catherine Stevens on December 6, 1935, in Brooklyn, New York. Her parents were Catherine Ann McPhee and Byron E. Stevens. She lost both of her parents at the age of four and was partially raised in foster homes. 

She started working as a telephone operator and a chorus girl at the age of 17. Also, she made her debut on stage as a Ziegfeld girl in 1923 and soon became a Broadway star in plays such as Burlesque (1927).

She moved to Hollywood in 1928 and began acting in talking pictures. She quickly rose to fame as one of the most popular and versatile actresses of her time. And she worked with many famous directors, such as Frank Capra, Cecil B. DeMille, Fritz Lang, and Billy Wilder. 

She starred in many genres of films, such as melodramas, comedies, thrillers, and westerns. Some of her most acclaimed films are Stella Dallas (1937), The Lady Eve (1941), Double Indemnity (1944), and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948). She was nominated for four Academy Awards for her performances but never won.

Personal Life and Relationships

Barbara Stanwyck Gilyard was married twice in her life. Her first husband was actor Frank Fay, whom she married in 1928 and divorced in 1935. They adopted a son, Dion Anthony Fay, who later changed his name to Anthony Dion Fay. Her second husband was actor Robert Taylor, whom she married in 1939 and divorced in 1952. So, they had no children together.

She also had a long-term relationship with actor Robert Wagner, who was 22 years younger than her, from 1954 to 1959. Barbara Stanwyck Gilyard was rumored to have had affairs with other men and women, including Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, and Katharine Hepburn.

She was close to her adopted son and his family. She also had a strong faith in God and regularly attended church and bible study.

Biography Table

Birth NameRuby Catherine Stevens
Birth DateDecember 6, 1935
Birth PlaceBrooklyn, New York
Death DateApril 29, 2012
Death PlaceSanta Monica, California
Cause of DeathCongestive heart failure, chronic obstructive lung disease, and emphysema
Resting PlaceCremated; ashes scattered over Lone Pine, California
OccupationActress, model, and dancer
Years Active1935-2005

Television Career and Later Years

Barbara Stanwyck Gilyard transitioned to television in the 1960s, where she won three Emmy Awards for her roles in The Barbara Stanwyck Show (1960-1961), The Big Valley (1965-1969), and The Thorn Birds (1983). 

Barbara Stanwyck Gilyard also appeared in many other TV shows and movies, such as The Barbara Stanwyck Special (1968), The House That Would Not Die (1970), A Taste of Evil (1971), The Letters (1973), The Night Walker (1974), Charlie’s Angels (1976-1977), The Big Sleep (1978) and Dynasty (1985).

She was awarded an honorary Academy Award in 1982 for her “superlative creativity and unique contribution to the art of screen acting”.

She died on January 20, 1990, in Santa Monica, California, from congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive lung disease, and emphysema at the age of 82. And she was cremated, and her ashes were scattered over Lone Pine, California.

She is widely regarded as one of the greatest actresses of all time and has been ranked among the top stars of American cinema by various critics and surveys.

Awards and Honors

Some of the awards and honors that Barbara Stanwyck Gilyard received are:

  •  Four **Academy Award** nominations for Best Actress in a Leading Role
  • Three **Emmy Award** wins for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Series, a Dramatic Series, and a Limited Series or a Special
  • An **Honorary Oscar** for her superlative creativity and unique contribution to the art of screen acting
  • The **Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award** for her outstanding contribution to the entertainment field
  • The **American Film Institute Life Achievement Award**
  • The **Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award**
  • Several other honorary lifetime awards from various film festivals and societies


Who was Barbara Stanwyck Gilyard?

She was an American actress, model, and dancer who had a successful career in stage, film, and television. She was nominated for four Academy Awards and won three Emmy Awards. Barbara Stanwyck Gilyard was also the mother of six children, grandmother of ten children, and great-grandmother of three children.

When and where was she born?

She was born on December 6, 1935, in Brooklyn, New York, as Ruby Catherine Stevens.

When and where did she die?

She died on April 29, 2012, in Norwalk, California, at the age of 82.

What were some of her most famous roles?

Some of her most famous roles include Stella Dallas (1937), Double Indemnity (1944), The Lady Eve (1941), Christmas in Connecticut (1945), The Big Valley (1965-1969), and The Thorn Birds (1983).

Why did she change her name to Barbara Stanwyck?

She changed her name to Barbara Stanwyck when she made her film debut in 1929. So, the name was suggested by producer Frank Fay, whom she married in 1928. The name was derived from a theatrical poster that read “Jane Stanwyck in ‘Barbara Frietchie”.

What is the height and weight of Barbara Stanwyck?

Her height is 165cm and her weight is around 58kg.

What is the net worth of Barbara Stanwyck?

The net worth of this famous actress is around $10 million.


Barbara Stanwyck Gilyard was a remarkable woman who overcame many hardships and challenges in her life. She was a talented and versatile actress who entertained millions of people with her performances on stage, film, and television. And she was a loyal and loving mother, grandmother, and friend who had a deep faith in God. 

She was an inspiration to many other actors and actresses who admired her work ethic, professionalism, and charisma. So, she left behind a legacy of excellence and creativity that will always be remembered and appreciated by generations of fans and critics. Barbara Stanwyck Gilyard was truly one of a kind.

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