Barbara Rush death: It Came From Outer Space actor dies aged 97

Barbara Rush at the Dorchester Hotel in London in 1964 (Ron Case/Keystone/Getty Images)
Barbara Rush at the Dorchester Hotel in London in 1964 (Ron Case/Keystone/Getty Images)

Barbara Rush, the actor best known for her starring role in classic Fifties sci-fi horror It Came from Outer Space, has died. She was 97.

In a statement to Fox News, her daughter Claudia Cowan said on Sunday (31 March): “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.”

Rush was born in Denver in 1927 before growing up in Santa Barbara where she enrolled in the theatre program at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

After leaving University, she was signed to Paramount Pictures who cast her in 1950’s The Goldbergs and 1951’s Oscar-winning sci-fi film When Worlds Collide.

In 1953 Rush landed a leading role in It Came from Outer Space, a sci-fi classic from an original treatment by Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury.

“Ray Bradbury was such a wonderful man,” Rush once told an interviewer. “I remember I used to see him all the time riding his bicycle all over Beverly Hills, I just loved him so much. But the thing about this movie was that he was really the first one who talked about aliens as superior beings – not just monsters trying to kill us. His idea was that if they were intelligent enough to get here, it was probably safe to say that they were a little smarter than us.”

In the film, Rush played a schoolteacher who, with her boyfriend (Richard Carlson) spots a falling meteor that turns out to be an alien spacecraft. Although the aliens duplicate the bodies of local townspeople, they turn out to be mostly harmless. Rush won a Golden Globe for most promising female newcomer for her role in the film.

Barbara Rush in Hollywood in 2019 (Getty Images for TCM)
Barbara Rush in Hollywood in 2019 (Getty Images for TCM)

Rush continued to star in major productions over the next three decades, including playing James Mason’s wife in Bigger Than Life and Dean Martin’s love interest in The Young Lions. She also appeared as Marian alongside Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr and Bing Crosby in the Rat Pack comedy Robin and the 7 Hoods.

On television she was best known for her role in soap Peyton Place, playing the mother of a rebellious teenager whose marriage is breaking down. She also guest starred in shows including The Love Boat, Magnum PI and Murder, She Wrote.

Rush was married three times. Her first marriage was to actor Jeffrey Hunter between 1950 and 1955​, and then to publicist Warren Cowan between 1959 and 1969. Her final marriage was to sculptor​ Jim Gruzalski, from 1970 to 1973, a relationship that began when they met at an Engelbert Humperdink concert.

She had two children, Christopher and Claudia.