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How Horseback Riding Helped Barbara Stanwyck Rise Above Hollywood Misogyny

Literary Hub


Care Experienced Actor Barbara Stanwyck (1907-1990) starred in Westerns from the 1940s, doing many of her own stunts.
In this article for Literary Hub, Catherine Russell argues that it was through doing this stunt work—during which she was frequently injured—that Stanwyck was able to challenge some of the “entrenched misogyny of the industry”.
Stanwyck apparently insisted on doing her own stunts because she thought it “contributed to the consistency of characterization” although there were times when doubles were used too.
Russell concludes with this observation:
“If women riding bicycles in Victorian times were considered transgressive, women straddling horses in mid-20th century America were likewise titillating. To Stanwyck’s credit, she consistently rose above such gender nonsense with her posture and her strong characters. An exceptionally weak character, such as Cora in Trooper Hook, never rides horses but sticks to carriages."

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