Last night I re-watched George Pal and Rudolph Mate’s When Worlds Collide (‘51), an ambitious if under-budgeted sci-fi disaster flick. Early on I was intrigued by (i.e., fantasizing about) 23 year-old costar Barbara Rush, whom I’d never paid much attention to (and who is still with us, by the way, at age 97).

She was unquestionably front and center during the ‘50s, but my most vivid memory of Rush is from Warren Beatty and Hal Ashby’s Shampoo (‘75).

There’s a scene in which Beatty’s Beverly Hills hairdresser (i.e., George Roundy) is trying to persuade a bank officer (George Furth) to give him a loan to start his own hair salon with. When asked about collateral, Roundy tries to explain that his business value is largely based upon celebrity client loyalty. “I have the heads…I do Barbara Rush,” he states. Alas, this isn’t enough for the bank officer.

Married to Jeffrey Hunter from ‘50 to ‘55, Rush was very fetching in her 20s, but augmented this with a certain interior, deep-drill quality that seemed rooted in good character and basic values. Call her the trustworthy, on-the-conservative-side, guilt-trippy type. This was especially evident in 1958’s The Young Lions and ‘59’s The Young Philadelphians.

It was this sense of duty and restraint plus a corresponding low-flame quality when it came to hints of sultry sensuousness that probably limited Rush’s appeal as she got into her 30s. Wikipage: “She was often cast as a willful woman of means or a polished, high-society doyenne.”