Monday, April 1, 2024


Barbara Rush, the classy yet largely unheralded leading lady who sparkled in the 1950s melodramas Magnificent Obsession, Bigger Than Life and The Young Philadelphians, has died. She was 97.

Rush, a regular on the fifth and final season of ABC’s Peyton Place and a favorite of sci-fi fans thanks to her work in When Worlds Collide (1951) and It Came From Outer Space (1953), died Sunday, her daughter, Fox News senior correspondent Claudia Cowan, confirmed to Fox News Digital.

“My wonderful mother passed away peacefully at 5:28 this evening. I was with her this morning and know she was waiting for me to return home safely to transition,” Cowan said. “It’s fitting she chose to leave on Easter as it was one of her favorite holidays and now, of course, Easter will have a deeper significance for me and my family.”

A starlet at Paramount, Universal and Fox whose career blossomed at the end of the Hollywood studio system, Rush also played opposite Frank Sinatra in Come Blow Your Horn (1963) and Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964), the last of the Rat Pack movies. Filming on the latter was stopped twice, once when President Kennedy was assassinated and again when Sinatra’s son was kidnapped.

In Douglas Sirk’s 1954 remake of Magnificent Obsession, Rush portrayed the adorable sister of Oscar nominee Jane Wyman, whose character is blinded in an accident caused by a reckless playboy (Rock Hudson).

Rush, Hudson and Sirk had warmed to the task by collaborating on the tongue-in-cheek film Taza, Son of Cochise (1954), in which the actors played Native Americans, and the three would work together again in the Ireland-set love story Captain Lightfoot (1955).

Rush portrayed the harried wife of James Mason, whose life unravels when he becomes addicted to cortisone, in Nicholas Ray’s controversial Bigger Than Life (1956), and she exceled as a disappointed socialite driven away by would-be lawyer Paul Newman in The Young Philadelphians (1959).

Rush also was seen as the despairing wife whose husband (Kirk Douglas) is having an affair (with neighbor Kim Novak) in Strangers When We Meet (1960), and she romanced Dean Martin and Richard Burton, respectively, in The Young Lions (1958) and The Bramble Bush (1960).

Rush never received an Oscar or Emmy nomination; she was given a Golden Globe in 1954 as most promising female newcomer for her performance in It Came From Outer Space, where she played the fiancee of an astronomer (Richard Carlson) as well as her seductive alien duplicate.

But who needs trophies? She was acknowledged in the 1975 film Shampoo when Warren Beatty’s Beverly Hills hairstylist and ladies man asked for references when applying for a business loan, bragged, “Well, I do Barbara Rush.”

The high-society Hollywood figure was married to actor Jeffrey Hunter (The Searchers) and legendary showbiz publicist Warren Cowan. Barbara Rush pretty much retired by 2007, but she continued to make appearances until around 2019 at movie conventions...

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