Barbara Stanwyck New Biography: Actress Reveals Insight on the 'Double Indemnity' Star's Life and Career

Nov 26, 2013 12:56 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

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Barbara Stanwyck

The "Stella Dallas" actress was born Ruby Stevens in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Photo : Reuters)

A new biography in two parts will provide insight into the life of actress Barbara Stanwyck, who's known for such classics as "Double Indemnity" and "The Lady Eve".

Author Victoria Wilson dove into Stanwyck's life and career, and the first part of her findings was released earlier this month. "A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940" is a revealing look at Stanwyck's personal and professional life in historical context, PEOPLE reported.

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Stanwyck, whose career spanned six decades, lived through the movie industry's transition to sound as well as Prohibition, the Great Depression and World War II. The new book has "860 glittering pages" and ends on a cliffhanger, stopping before 1941 classic "The Lady Eve," according to The New York Times review.

Born Ruby Stevens in Brooklyn, Stanwyck's mother died when Ruby was four years old. Her father left soon after. "Steel-true" Stanwyck also weathered two marriages, including a troubled first marriage to actor Frank Fay, an alcoholic who abused Stanwyck and their adopted son, Dion.

Nominated for an Oscar four times, Stanwyck was finally recognized in 1982 with an Honorary Award for "superlative creativity and unique contribution to the art of screen acting." Her legacy includes such classics as "Ball of Fire," where she starred opposite Gary Cooper and received a Best Actress nomination.

Driven and dedicated, Stanwyck was also known for copying out her scripts four or five times longhand so she could memorize every line.

"Lots of actresses are getting by with good looks and practically nothing else. And there are other actresses who have brains and no beauty," said director William Wellman, who worked with Stanwyck for 1931's "Night Nurse" and other films. "But when you get beauty and brains together, there's no stopping her--and the best example of that is Barbara."

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