Home News Barbara Rush dies at 97; 1950s-era film star remembered as ‘Old Hollywood...

Barbara Rush dies at 97; 1950s-era film star remembered as ‘Old Hollywood Royalty’

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By Bob Thomas | Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Barbara Rush, a popular leading actor in the 1950 and 1960s who co-starred with Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman and other top film performers and later had a thriving TV career, has died. She was 97.

Rush’s death was announced by her daughter, Fox News reporter Claudia Cowan, who posted on Instagram that her mother died on Easter Sunday. Additional details were not immediately available.

Portrait of actress Barbara Rush wearing a pearl necklace, circa 1950. (Photo by L. Willinger/Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Rush, seen here circa 1950, appeared in such films as “Captain Lightfoot,” “Magnificent Obsession, “It Came From Outer Space” and “Bigger Than Life.” (L. Willinger/Keystone Features/Hulton Archive via Getty Images)

Cowan praised her mother as “among the last of ”Old Hollywood Royalty” and called herself her mother’s “biggest fan.”

Spotted in a play at the Pasadena Playhouse, Rush was given a contract at Paramount Studios in 1950 and made her film debut that same year with a small role in “The Goldbergs,” based on the radio and TV series of the same name.

She would leave Paramount soon after, however, going to work for Universal International and later 20th Century Fox.

“Paramount wasn’t geared for developing new talent,” she recalled in 1954. “Every time a good role came along, they tried to borrow Elizabeth Taylor.”

Rush went on to appear in a wide range of films. She starred opposite Rock Hudson in “Captain Lightfoot” and in Douglas Sirk’s acclaimed remake of “Magnificent Obsession,” Audie Murphy in “World in My Corner” and Richard Carlson in the 3-D science-fiction classic “It Came From Outer Space,” for which she received a Golden Globe for most promising newcomer.

Other film credits included the Nicholas Ray classic “Bigger Than Life”; “The Young Lions,” with Marlon Brando, Dean Martin and Montgomery Clift and “The Young Philadelphians” with Newman. She made two films with Sinatra, “Come Blow Your Horn” and the Rat Pack spoof “Robin and the Seven Hoods,” which also featured Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.

Rush, who had made TV guest appearances for years, recalled fully making the transition as she approached middle age.

“There used to be this terrible Sahara Desert between 40 and 60 when you went from ingenue to old lady,” she remarked in 1962. “You either didn’t work or you pretended you were 20.”

21st May 1959: L-R: American actors Ronald Reagan, Barbara Rush and Frank Sinatra sit at a dinner table smiling at a party at Puccini's Restaurant after the premiere of director Frank Capra's film, 'A Hole in the Head,' in which Sinatra starred. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Rush — seen here in 1959 with Ronald Reagan, left, and Frank Sinatra — appeared with Sinatra in a pair of films: “Come Blow Your Horn” and the Rat Pack spoof “Robin and the Seven Hoods,” which also featured Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.​ (Hulton Archive via Getty Images)

Instead, Rush took on roles in such series as “Peyton Place,” “All My Children,” “The New Dick Van Dyke Show” and “7th Heaven.” She also appeared on “The Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island,” “Magnum, P.I.” and “Murder, She Wrote.”

“I’m one of those kinds of people who will perform the minute you open the refrigerator door and the light goes on,” she cracked in a 1997 interview.

Her first play was the road company version of “Forty Carats,” a comedy that had been a hit in New York. The director, Abe Burrows, helped her with comedic acting.



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