A case in point was the “swear box” that she installed on every set where she worked. The idea was that anyone on the stage who said a naughty word must atone by dropping a coin into the box, the collection to be given to charity.
"Put a coin in the swear box," said Loretta.
"What?" said Stanwyck, who’d never before heard of this flummery.
"You said bad words," twinkled Loretta. "You have to pay for it." She pointed to the box.
Stanwyck raised her eyes heavenward. "Oh, for Christ’s sake!" She fished in her purse and withdrew a quarter. "There," she said. "There’s twenty-five cents for your goddamn swear box."
Barbara Stanwyck in The Bitter Tea of General Yen, 1933
Because she was the same age as the character, and what the character has to say is so… well, you could have dropped a feather on that set. We all had very wet eyes. You could see the actress responding to the moment on the set as well as the moment in the picture. It was just incredible.
When we shot the scene, it was very moving. I knew I had to get the close-ups carefully, because she’s experienced enough to hold back for them. We did it in two takes, and she came up even higher in the second. After the first one, people had tears in their eyes. She swung the bedroom doors closed, and there was a long silence and then applause. But she did not appear. So I went in and opened the doors and closed them behind me. She was standing there shaking, just shaking. I remember holding her, giving her a big hug and, as I’ve said, one held a fully sensual woman. It was a very beautiful, touching moment.
- Stan Margulies, The Thorn Birds (1983)
“She’s a girl with tremendous ideals and standards. She lives by that old bromide - the show must go on. Personally, I’ve always thought that’s baloney. If an actor is sick I think he should stay home and doctor himself. But not Stanwyck. She’d get to the studio, if she had to, on a stretcher. When she gets on that sound stage she knows every line by heart. Not me. Why should I learn lines in advance when they’re going to change half of them, anyway, before I can get in front of the camera? But not my Barbara.”
Robert Taylor ( Motion Picture Magazine, April 1949)
“That’s what you think…oh, Christ, will you get your legs where they’re supposed to be?”
-Barbara Stanwyck to Dennis Morgan in an outtake from Christmas In Connecticut (1945)