Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1993


"Barbara Stanwyck, an intrepid citizen who has shown no fear of man, terrain, or scripts over a long and illustrious career, is tackling all three in Cattle Queen of Montana," reported the New York Times when the film opened in that city in 1954.1 Thirty years into her movie career, Stanwyck indeed had demonstrated her ability in more than eighty roles by the late 1950s. Nominated for four Academy Awards in her career, none of them for Westerns, Stanwyck professed to love that genre best; she starred in ten Western movies during the 1940s and 1950s.2 In these films, Stanwyck brought to the Western heroine a spunky determination and spirit of independence unusual for women in Westerns in this era. So successful was she, and so enamored of Westerns was the American public, that success followed her to the small screen as head of the Barkley clan in "The Big Valley" television series in the 1960s.

Copyright Statement

Published as Schackel, Sandra. Barbara Stanwyck: Uncommon Heroine. California History, Vol. 72, No.1, Women in California History (Spring, 1993), pp. 40-55. © 1993 by the University of California Press in association with the California Historical Society.Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by University of California Press in association with the California Historical Society for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® on JSTOR ( or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center,

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