The Golden Globe for New Star of the Year was notoriously hit and miss even before the infamous 1982 award bought for Pia Zadora. There were indeed some big names over the years. Paul Newman. James Garner. Patty Duke. Mia Farrow. But you’d also get things like Natalie Wood for Rebel Without a Cause, which alert readers will notice came out eight years after Miracle on 34th Street. And many, many years where the person went on to do essentially nothing notable. Or people. Six of them got the award for 1953. They were Barbara Rush, Pat Crowley, Bella Darvi, Richard Egan, Steve Forrest, and Hugh O’Brian. Roman Holiday came out that year; Audrey Hepburn won an acting award for it, and I guess that was considered enough.
Not that Barbara Rush is a bad actress, you understand. I don’t mean to denigrate her, just point out how bizarre the category is. She’s done some really amazing work over the years, but it’s not necessarily work people remember. Even when they should. She’s one of any number of extremely talented people to come out of the Pasadena Playhouse. However, the memorable roles tend to rise out of the vague unfamiliarity of the rest of her career.
Everyone insists we should know her for It Came From Outer Space, and indeed that’s what she won her Golden Globe for. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it. Or When Worlds Collide. I definitely haven’t seen The Black Shield of Falmouth, one of those early Tony Curtis swashbucklers where he was so miscast. I haven’t even seen Can’t Stop the Music or Robin and the 7 Hoods, probably the other two movies she did with heavy cultural weight that are not necessarily good movies.
What I have seen, and what more people definitely should, is Bigger Than Life, where she plays the long-suffering wife to a public school teacher played by James Mason who is suffering from cortisone addiction. It’s a fine movie about the tragic issues of prescription drug abuse. It takes care to explain that the drug gives relief to a genuine medical condition but can also be misused and produce awful side effects. She’s also in Magnificent Obsession. Really, she proves that she could do fine work in a melodrama, but there were only so many of those.
For decades, Rush made her home on television. She’s got one of Those Careers. Oh, longer than most—there are not a lot of people who started on Lux Video Theatre and ended up as a recurring character on 7th Heaven—but she hit a lot of the familiar high points. Including two episode of Batman. She was on both Ironside and Magnum, PI, and she’s still alive. Maybe not acting these days, from what I can tell, but she’s 93, so if she doesn’t want to, she doesn’t have to.