Barbara Rush, who co-starred with Frank Sinatra and Paul Newman, dies aged 97

1 April 2024, 20:54

Obit Barbara Rush
Obit Barbara Rush. Picture: PA

Spotted in a play at the Pasadena Playhouse, Rush was given a contract at Paramount Studios in 1950.

Barbara Rush, a leading actress in the 1950s and 1960s who co-starred with Frank Sinatra, Paul Newman and other top film stars, and later had a thriving TV career, has died aged 97.

Her death was announced by her daughter, Fox News reporter Claudia Cowan, who posted on Instagram that her mother died on Easter Sunday.

Cowan described 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.

Obit Barbara Rush
Frank Sinatra and Barbara Rush in a scene from the film Come Blow Your Horn in 1962 (Don Brinn/AP)

“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 3D 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 said in 1962. “You either didn’t work or you pretended you were 20.”

Instead, Rush took on roles in such series as Peyton Place, All My Children, The New Dick Van Dyke Show and 7th Heaven.

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

“It was very, very difficult for me to learn timing at first, especially the business of waiting for a laugh,” she said in 1970. But she learned, and the show lasted a year in Chicago and months more on the road.

She went on to appear in such tours as Same Time, Next Year, Father’s Day, Steel Magnolias, and her solo show, A Woman Of Independent Means.

Born in Denver, Rush spent her first 10 years on the move while her father, a mining company lawyer, was assigned from town to town.

The family finally settled in Santa Barbara, California, where young Barbara played a mythical dryad in a school play and fell in love with acting.

She pursued drama at the University of California, Berkeley, then won a scholarship to the Pasadena Playhouse Theatre Arts College.

Rush was married and divorced three times – to screen star Jeffrey Hunter, Hollywood publicity executive Warren Cowan and sculptor James Gruzalski.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

APTOPIX Trump Hush Money

Jury selection enters pivotal stretch as Trump’s hush money trial resumes

Croatia Election

Croatia’s conservatives believe majority is close despite inconclusive vote

Fire and smoke rise out of the Old Stock Exchange, Boersen, in Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen and Paris mayors discuss lessons learned after fires wreck landmarks

California Google News

Google fires 28 staff after office sit-ins to protest cloud contract with Israel

A police forensic officer at the Christ the Good Shepherd church in suburban Wakely in western Sydney, Australia

Sydney bishop says he ‘forgives’ alleged attacker after church stabbing

French construction worker Damien Guerot

French hero gains Australian residency for confronting shopping centre killer

Firefighters work on a building that was partially destroyed after a Russian bombardment in Chernihiv, Ukraine (Francisco Seco/AP)

Russia reports downing five Ukrainian military balloons

Police officers clean the debris from an earthquake in Uwajima, Ehime prefecture, western Japan

Strong earthquake in Japan leaves nine with minor injuries, but no tsunami

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump meets with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda

Poland’s president becomes latest foreign leader to visit Donald Trump

German far-right politician of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) Bjorn Hocke, centre, attends his trial in the state court in Halle, Germany

Far-right politician stands trial in Germany over alleged use of Nazi slogan

Belgium EU Summit

EU leaders vow to impose tougher sanctions on Iran as Ukraine pleads for support

Asylum seeker Anicet Mayela pictured outside Campsfield House detention centre in Oxfordshire

Asylum seeker raped 15-year-old girl after his deportation flight was blocked by protesting cabin crew

Skye, a Husky dog, sits near floodwater in Dubai

UAE struggles to recover after heaviest recorded rainfall hits desert nation

A man walks past the entrance to the Westfield shopping centre at Bondi Junction in Sydney

Sydney shopping centre reopens after stabbings

Sydney church stabbing: Australian bishop forgives alleged attacker

Australian bishop breaks silence as he 'forgives' alleged attacker following brutal stabbing

Croatia Election

Croatia’s ruling conservatives win parliamentary vote but cannot rule alone