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  #1  
Old 07-15-2004, 02:12 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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Jane Stanwyck in "Barbara Frietchie"

I'm writing an article on Barbara Stanwyck. Every source I see quotes her as saying she changed her name in 1926 when she got her first Broadway role, in The Noose—that she saw a poster or program advertising “Jane Stanwyck in Barbara Frietchie.”

All very well and good, but I take nothing at face value. And some Googling and theater-book-perusing show no evidence that an actress named Jane Stanwyck ever existed, let alone starred in Barbara Frietchie (the cast lists for the 1899 and 1901 versions of that show do not have any Janes or Stanwycks in them).

Any other researchers or theater historians here have access to any records that might prove or disprove the existence and credits of the Mysterious Jane Stanwyck?
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  #2  
Old 07-15-2004, 02:16 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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Oops, fixed link.
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  #3  
Old 07-15-2004, 03:34 PM
merrily merrily is offline
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Your spelling of Frietchie looked odd to me, so I tried googling Barbara Fritchie and movie and it turns out there was an actress by that name in the movies in the 1930's. Maybe she was on the stage in the '20s.

http://www.moviesunlimited.com/musit...rbara+Fritchie

This probably only muddies the waters, but makes me wonder if the story actually had something to do with this other actress, or if they got mixed up at some point.
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  #4  
Old 07-15-2004, 03:48 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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Thanks, but nope—"Barbara Frietchie" was a character from an old poem about the Revolutionary war (I'm not sure if she really existed or not). There was a play about her, which supposedly starred one Jane Stanwyck, from whence Barbara Stanwyck get her name.

This 1930s "Barbara Fritchie" dame must have taken her stage name from the poem's leading lady.
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  #5  
Old 07-15-2004, 03:58 PM
BMalion BMalion is online now
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"Shoot, if you must, you are kid-ding I trust..

...what's more the war's in the bag,
and you've got, a spare flag,
but this is the only old grey head I've got!"


a tip of the hat to Stan Fregerg.
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  #6  
Old 07-15-2004, 05:43 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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OK, I got home and looked through my theater history books, and I do not see any "Jane Stanwyck." I have a feeling this is a story made up by some PR guy and Barbara Stanwyck, and she just repeated it over and over, and it's been taken as gospel.
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  #7  
Old 07-15-2004, 05:54 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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No Jane Stanwyck or Jane Stanwick in the Biography and Genealogy Master Index.

In an index of the 1930 U.S. census, I find exactly Stanwycks: Wojciech and Rose Stanwyck, in Westfield, Mass.; Earl Stanwyck in Richmond, Va.; and Hiland Stanwyck (male) in Chicago.

There are 260 people with surnames that begin Stanwi— in the 1930 U.S. census, but none is a Jane. (All of the Stanwy— people are Stanwycks, as given above.)

No Jane Stanwyck in the Social Security Death Index, 1962—present. One Jane Stanwick, born in 1921, Social Security number issued in Connecticut, 1936-1950.
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  #8  
Old 07-15-2004, 06:42 PM
Julius Henry Julius Henry is offline
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This site mentions that Jane Stanwyck was a British actress, which could explain why Eve and Walloon didn't find her. Anyone have access to a British theatre guide?
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  #9  
Old 07-15-2004, 07:13 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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The Biography and Genealogy Master Index is supposed to be a worldwide index, and it does include reference books on the British and Canadian theaters.

The most recent English census to be published was the 1901 census. I just did an index search on Jane Stan—k, and found four instances of Jane Stanbrook, one of Jane Stanlick, and one of Jane Standerwick.

The FreeBMD database has about 80% of all births in England and Wales between 1870 and 1900; but not one Stanwyck or Standwyck. One Jane Stanwick, born in 1878.

No Jane Stanwyck, Jane Stanwick, or Jane Standwyck in the port of New York's ship passenger lists, 1892—1924.
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  #10  
Old 07-15-2004, 07:21 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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The FreeBMD database also has about 95% of the marriages in England and Wales between 1867 and 1903. Not one Stanwyck or Standwyck, or a Jane Stanwick.
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  #11  
Old 07-15-2004, 07:38 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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Hmmm, thanks, folks--Knew I could count on you! That site Julius Henry linked to just referred to her as "the English actress," but doesn't provide any kind of sources. I suspect the First Miss Stanwyck was a myth . . . We're bustin' this story wide open!
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  #12  
Old 07-15-2004, 08:33 PM
leander leander is offline
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Not quite sure you're finished just yet. Around the time of Barbara's name change there was a musical on Broadway called My Maryland, which is based on...Barbara Frietchie. (The play actually opened on Broadway in Sept., 1927, but of course it would have likely been playing OffB before then, or OffOff, or previews, or whathaveyou.)

So perhaps it was "Jane Stanwyck as Barbara Frietchie" (rather than "in"); in any event, I would start hunting again...
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  #13  
Old 07-15-2004, 08:42 PM
leander leander is offline
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Oh, and I wouldn't be put off by the fact that Evelyn Herbert starred in the Broadway version. The trick of course will be to find any earlier productions, if they occured at all, and to see if this shadowy Jane woman exists. Though I have a feeling she may just be a figment of J. Edgar's imagination...

Unfortunately, the phrase "My Maryland" is terribly google-unfriendly, unless you would like to know all about the Old Line State.
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  #14  
Old 07-15-2004, 10:40 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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This won't solve anything, but on the subject of Ms. Stanwyck:
Quote:
[Barbara Stanwyck] was an old-fashioned movie queen up to her eyeballs. An old-fashioned movie queen never tells the truth about anything. She's used to being interviewed by the fan magazines and making up the script as she went along. At the same time, she's always been very guarded about her personal story, which is one of the most dramatic in the business. If you go and look it up in a library, you come off with a terrific tale about an orphan who made good. Frank Capra can tell you tales about Barbara Stanwyck that are really moving. Capra recognized her qualities and could verbalize what they were. "Any girl who can make me cry," he said, "has something I want."
--Former TV Guide writer Dwight Whitney listing her as one of his most difficult interviews in "The TV Book of Lists" by Gabe Essoe
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  #15  
Old 07-16-2004, 08:22 AM
Eve Eve is offline
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Well, here's the story from Stanwyck (Barbara, not Jane) herself, speaking of events in 1926: "We were in Belasco's office over the Belasco Theater . . . The two men were talking about my name, I heard Belasco say, 'She can't go on as Ruby Stevens, sounds like a burlesque queen's name.' As he talked he was leafing over some old theater programs. One of them, it was thirty years old, was the program of Jane Stanwyck in Barbara Frietchie . . . They both looked at the program again and as one man, said 'Barbara Stanwyck!' And it was done."

Now, I don't know why she would make this up, unless it was a cute PR story she just repeated over and over. But the only two B'way productions of Barbara Frietchie had no Jane Stanwyck in them, let alone starred her, and none of us can even find a Jane Stanwyck. The only thing I can think is she was a minor actress who starred in a touring company of the show, but we are really stretching it.
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  #16  
Old 07-16-2004, 10:05 AM
leander leander is offline
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Well, there goes the My Maryland theory.

However, I would not be so quick to dismiss the notion that there were other productions that starred a "Jane Stanwyck". Walloon has done some excellent research, but s/he discounts the possibility of missing records, a "Jane Doe" marrying a Mr. Stanwyck, etc.

Regardless, the idea that all the records of the many productions that took place around the turn of the century are easily accessible from the internet (or anywhere, for that matter) is rather unrealistic. Poking around a bit I've already found one production in Boston at the Castle Square Theatre in 1902 (not a rinky-dink place, by any measure), but no cast list. Doubtful it could be found anywhere on the net. And considering the multitude of actors and actresses that have plundered the stage over the years, it's most likely that only a small percentage are accountable via the internet. (I know a few working today on stage who you couldn't find without poking them with a big stick.)

I know this probably goes without saying, but Broadway isn't the end-all-be-all of Theatre. There quite possibly could have been dozens of productions of Frietchie in New York, Boston, Philly, D.C., etc. in the few years following its debut, and perhaps several large enough and "important" enough to merit a playbill sitting in Belasco's office.

Here's another idea if you're really serious about this -- call Amherst College. Fitch is an Alum, and they have a large collection of his papers, first printings, etc. Someone there might be able to help you on your quest.
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  #17  
Old 07-16-2004, 11:09 AM
Eve Eve is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leander
Here's another idea if you're really serious about this -- call Amherst College. Fitch is an Alum, and they have a large collection of his papers, first printings, etc. Someone there might be able to help you on your quest.
Excellent idea—I shall do so posthaste!
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  #18  
Old 07-16-2004, 03:56 PM
Governor Quinn Governor Quinn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eve
Thanks, but nope—"Barbara Frietchie" was a character from an old poem about the Revolutionary war (I'm not sure if she really existed or not).
Civil War, actually. The person existed (with a differently-spelt last name), but the story attached to her is false.
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  #19  
Old 07-17-2004, 10:00 AM
leander leander is offline
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Good luck with that! And please let us know what you uncover. It's always fascinating to get to the bottom of some of these great old Hollywood legends/myths.
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  #20  
Old 07-17-2004, 02:08 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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The Civil Wa-wa? Oops. haven't read the poem since it was new.

I doubt we will ever really get to the bottom of this--especially as I have to get the article done next week--but what I will do is state that if there was a Jane Stanwyck, she seems to have been too obscure to be the source of the story, and that there is a good chance it is not true. Leave my readers to play Old Movie Woodward & Bernstein.
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  #21  
Old 07-17-2004, 03:57 PM
merrily merrily is offline
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I noticed that a couple of websites listed the elusive Frietchie actress as the English actress Joan Stanwyck. Maybe the people with access to the British sources could also try that one.

(I knew about the Barbara Frietchie website/poem--but also note that I found websites with Fritchie as well. This story may be lost in spelling variations of both the names. I wouldn't be surprised if it was really something like Joan Stanwick after all.)
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  #22  
Old 07-17-2004, 05:13 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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I'm at my weekly visit to the library.

Variety Obituaries 1905-1986. No Standwick, Standwyck, or Stanwick; the only Stanwyck entries are Barbara and producer Jay (d. 1967).

Personal Name Index to 'The New York Times Index' 1851-1974. No woman named Standwick, Standwyck, Stanwick, or Stanwyck (other than Barbara).

The New York Times Theater Reviews/Index 1870-1919. No Standwick, Standwyck, Stanwick, or Stanwyck. Index 1920-1970. Ditto, except for Barbara Stanwyck and producer Jay Stanwyck.

No Standwick, Standwyck, Stanwick, or Stanwyck in the indexes to:
The London Stage, 1890-1899
The London Stage, 1900-1909
The London Stage, 1910-1919
The London Stage, 1920-1929
The London Stage, 1930-1939


The Oxford Companion to Canadian Theatre. No Standwick, Standwyck, Stanwick, or Stanwyck in the index.

1900 U.S. census: No Standwyck; two Standwick records: Jane H. Standwick, 58, born in New York, res. with sister Mary in Beverly, Mass., no occupation listed; 6 Stanwick households but no Jane and no actress; no Stanwyck.

1910 U.S. census: No Standwyck or Stanwyck; 5 Standwick household but no Jane and no actress; 16 Stanwick households but no Jane and no actress.

1881 census of England and Wales: No Stanwyck; Jane Standwick, 24, single, dressmaker, in Guildford, Surrey; Mary Jane Stanwick, 15, in Eldon, Durham (married in 1882); no Joan by any of the spellings.

1891 census of England and Wales: One Standwick (Lizzie, 16, in London); no Standwyck; 20 Stanwick records but no Jane or Joan and no actress; no Stanwyck.

1901 census of England and Wales: See my second posting above.
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  #23  
Old 07-17-2004, 05:32 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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I should add:

1901 census of England and Wales: no Joan Standw-- or Joan Stanw--.
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  #24  
Old 07-17-2004, 06:57 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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I'm gonna go with Walloon here, whom I always bow to in matters of film history and research.
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  #25  
Old 07-17-2004, 09:33 PM
leander leander is offline
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Sounds reasonable, considering that's some damn impressive research, Walloon.

One request, though -- would you let us know where the article will be published so we can get a copy of it (and support your writing). Thanks much.
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  #26  
Old 12-07-2012, 07:58 AM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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I caught the Barbara Stanwyck program on TCM last night. They repeated the story that [someone] came up with the name by combining two names from some old playbills. I forgot his name, but he was her manager/agent/PR person.
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  #27  
Old 12-07-2012, 12:58 PM
Sigmagirl Sigmagirl is offline
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I miss Eve. Eve, you're probably not reading this, but on the remote chance that you are, I'm very sorry that you felt it necessary to leave us. I eagerly await your book and wish you all the best.
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  #28  
Old 12-07-2012, 03:29 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Governor Quinn View Post
Civil War, actually. The person existed (with a differently-spelt last name), but the story attached to her is false.
Yah. I've been to her house. I assume it still stands in Frederick MD.
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  #29  
Old 12-07-2012, 09:15 PM
Edward The Head Edward The Head is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Yah. I've been to her house. I assume it still stands in Frederick MD.
It does still stand, and the Frederick County historical society has something going on with Barbara Fritchie, correct spelling, currently. I grew up in Frederick but have never been to the house. The house is a reconstruction.
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  #30  
Old 12-07-2012, 10:16 PM
terentii terentii is offline
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The true story:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTAPT52aXGM
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  #31  
Old 12-07-2012, 11:06 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Starting next Wednesday night (12/12) on Turner Classic Movies, 24 hours of Barbara Stanwyk movies.


Quote:
Originally Posted by terentii View Post
I remember more history from Rocky & Bullwinkle than I learned in school.
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  #32  
Old 12-07-2012, 11:15 PM
terentii terentii is offline
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Starting next Wednesday night (12/12) on Turner Classic Movies, 24 hours of Barbara Stanwyk movies.
Barbara Stanwyk, mmmmmmmmmmm!

"I'm crazy about you, baby!"
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  #33  
Old 12-09-2012, 06:55 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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Oh, my! This doc on TCM was from 1991. I thought it was relatively recent. Of course, they would repeat the story of her name.
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