The Backstory of Barbara Ruick

(Travalanche)

I became intrigued by Barbara Ruick (1930-74) from an eye-catching bit turn she performs in Robert Altman’s California Split. She plays a lady bartender in a cowgirl outfit in the climactic poker scene. Ruick only has a couple of lines, but something about it was arresting to me. She seems much more confident and present than an ordinary extra, and Altman seems to give her slightly more attention and screentime than would be typical (though Altman is often generous in this way to minor characters, allowing them their moments to shine). But it turns out there are NUMEROUS reasons for her prominent presence in the scene.

The first is, sadly, she died during the shoot. She left work early one night, citing a splitting headache and upset stomach. Someone went to check on her the next day when she didn’t return to the set and found her dead. Brain…

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Author: Juliette Kings

I'm a mom, artist and writer, living in California. Westcoastreview.wordpress.com and Vampiremaman.com

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