Hollywood Golden Era Star Dies at 97

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Barbara Rush, the esteemed actress celebrated for her dynamic and enduring presence in both film and television, died on Sunday, March 31 at the age of 97. 

Known for her versatility and depth as an actress, Rush’s career spanned over seven decades, marking her as a pivotal figure in Hollywood’s golden era and beyond.

Born on January 4, 1927, in Denver, Colorado, Rush moved to Santa Barbara, California, during her childhood. She would later attend the University of California, Santa Barbara before earning a scholarship to the Pasadena Playhouse, where her talent caught the attention of a Paramount Pictures talent scout. This pivotal moment led to her signing her first acting contract with Paramount Pictures in 1950.

Rush made her film debut in “The Goldbergs,” portraying Debbie Sherman, which marked the beginning of a luminous film career. She achieved early acclaim with her starring role in the 1953 science-fiction classic “It Came from Outer Space,” for which she received the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer – Female. Her career flourished with roles in notable films such as “The Young Lions” and “The Young Philadelphians,” as well as memorable performances in “Ben Casey,” “Dr. Kildare,” “The Fugitive,” and “Ironside.”

Beyond the silver screen, Rush was also a familiar face on television, notably for her roles as Nora Clavicle in the “Batman” TV series, Marsha Russell in “Peyton Place,” and later as Ruth Camden on “7th Heaven.” However, it was her portrayal of Nola Orsini on the beloved ABC soap opera “All My Children” that earned her significant acclaim in her later career.

Rush’s personal life was as eventful as her career, with marriages to fellow actor Jeffrey Hunter, with whom she had a son, Christopher, and to publicist Warren Cowan, with whom she had her daughter, Claudia Cowan, a senior FOX News correspondent. Her final marriage was to sculptor Jim Gruzalski. 

Rush was a cherished figure in Hollywood, befriending icons like Marilyn Monroe and working alongside stars such as Frank Sinatra, Rock Hudson, and Paul Newman.

Her daughter, Claudia Cowan, confirmed Rush’s peaceful passing on Sunday, shortly after returning home from work. “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 stated. She reflected on the significance of her mother’s passing on Easter, a holiday Rush adored, now imbued with a deeper meaning for the family.

In the days leading up to her passing, Cowan shared a touching tribute to her mother on Instagram, celebrating Rush’s enduring spirit and radiance, marking her 97th birthday with warmth and admiration.

Barbara Rush’s legacy extends beyond her contributions to entertainment. Her journey from a young girl in Santa Barbara to a revered Hollywood icon encapsulates the dreams and aspirations of many actors. Her accolades, including the Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer and a lifetime of roles across genres, testify to her talent and dedication.

Rush is survived by her daughter, Claudia Cowan, son Christopher Hunter, and four grandchildren, leaving behind a legacy that will continue to inspire and captivate audiences for generations to come.

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