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‘All My Children’ Star Barbara Rush Passes at 97

From ‘The Fugitive’ to ‘All My Children’: Remembering TV Icon Barbara Rush

Barbara Rush

Esteemed actress Barbara Rush, best remembered for her stellar performance as Nola Orsini in ABC’s widely watched soap opera ‘All My Children,’ drew her last breath this past Sunday. Her age was marked at 97. The sad news was reported to the world by her daughter, Claudia Cowan, a recognized correspondent for FOX News. Cowan announced that her dear mother had ‘left this world serenely’ a little while after Cowan herself concluded her daily work duties.

Claudia Cowan opened her heart to express her affection and deep loss, saying, ‘I was with her this morning and realize she was waiting for me to return home safely before moving on.’ She added, ‘How appropriate that she chose Easter to make her exit, it was one of her cherished holidays and it will now bear a further profound meaning for myself and our family.’

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Rush was a versatile actor, lending her extraordinary skills not just in ‘All My Children,’ but also gracing shows such as ‘Ben Casey,’ ‘Dr. Kildare,’ ‘The Fugitive,’ and ‘Ironside.’ She won the affection of many through her heartfelt portrayal of Ruth Camden on ‘7th Heaven’. Attempts were made to receive a comment from Rush’s representative, but without immediacy.

Born on January 4, 1927, in the city of Denver, Colorado, Rush would later find her home in Santa Barbara, California. Cowan, honoring her mother’s memory, described her glowingly, ‘She radiates like gold, as precious as a diamond, glowing like the moon, and shining bright as the sun.’

Capturing the timeless beauty of her mother, Cowan wrote, ‘Even the years have not been able to dim the light of her eyes, the purity of her heart, or the profound wisdom in her soul.’ She fondly reflected, ‘In my eyes, she is not 97 years old but 97 years young.’

Rush moved to Santa Barbara, California during her childhood. The skilled actress was bestowed with the now-defunct Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer – Female, a testament to her outstanding performance in the 1953 sci-fi film ‘It Came From Outer Space’.

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The early days of her career saw her and her father ushering at the Lobero Theatre. Post her graduation from UC Santa Barbara in 1948, Rush’s acting skills secured her a scholarship at the Pasadena Playhouse, where she grabbed the attention of a talent scout.

Destiny had big plans for the young talent. In 1950, Rush found herself inking her initial contract in acting with Paramount Pictures. Soon she played her first significant role, Debbie Sherman, in the film adaptation of ‘The Goldbergs.’ Love found Rush during this period when she married her co-actor Jeffrey Hunter. The couple became the parents of a son, Christopher, becoming one of the glamorous couples of Hollywood until their separation in 1955.

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Rush worked with and was a part of the star-studded circle that included luminaries like Frank Sinatra, Rock Hudson, Dean Martin, Paul Newman, and Kirk Douglas, even being on amicable terms with Marilyn Monroe. In 1959, Rush married publicist Warren Cowan and together they had Claudia Cowan. However, the couple’s journey ended in divorce in 1969.

Rush embarked on a third matrimonial voyage by wedding sculptor Jim Gruzalski in 1970. However, destiny had other plans, leading to their parting ways in 1973. Despite the personal trials, Rush’s career remained on an upward trajectory, leading her to be honored the Most Promising Newcomer – Female at the Golden Globe Awards for her performance in ‘It Came From Outer Space.’

In 2007, she gave a standout performance as Grandma Ruth Camden in the teen drama ‘7th Heaven,’ adding to her long list of distinguished roles. Throughout her career, she was notably associated with multiple renowned personalities such as Frank Sinatra, Rock Hudson, Dean Martin, Paul Newman, and Kirk Douglas, and had developed a cherished friendship with Marilyn Monroe.

Rush shared her fond memories with Monroe: ‘Indeed, we were friends. We were part of the studio club. They immediately put me into the studio club, kind of like a sorority house, when I first came to Hollywood and joined Paramount. And Marilyn Monroe was there. I adored her, Marilyn was truly a pleasantly nice lady. All of us girls in the studio club had an enjoyable time.’

Rush showcased her acting breadth playing the villainous Nora Clavicle in the 1960s ‘Batman’ TV series, contributing to the dynamic duo of Adam West as Batman and Burt Wade as Robin. After her stint on the series, she joined the famed soap opera ‘Peyton Place’ as Marsha Russell before eventually making way to ‘All My Children’ in 1992. Her mesmerizing performance captivated audiences for two years and 38 episodes.

In her final on-screen appearance in 2007, Rush portrayed ‘7th Heaven’s’ Grandma Ruth Camden for a series of nine gripping episodes. The celebrated actress’s life was full, leaving behind a rich legacy, her daughter Claudia Cowan, son Christopher Hunter, and two grandchildren, who’ll continue to hold her memories dearly.

The shimmering light of the Hollywood stage may have dimmed with Barbara Rush’s departure, but her luminous legacy will continue to inspire generations. Her exceptional performances across various world-renowned shows, her effortless transitions between characters, and her indelible impact on the entertainment industry affirm her place as a true doyenne of Hollywood.

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