Descended from a well-established New England family, St. Louis-born Barbara O'Neil was educated at Sarah Lawrence College and launched her acting career with the Cape Cod-based University Players. The co-founder of this prestigious group was Joshua Logan, who became O'Neil's husband (they were later divorced). She made her Broadway debut in 1930's Saint's Parade and came to Hollywood in 1937 to appear in Samuel Goldwyn's Stella Dallas. Signed to a Universal contract, O'Neil was rather wasted in antiseptic roles in Tower of London (1939) and The Sun Never Sets (1939), although she was given ample opportunity to shine as Charles Boyer's self-destructive wife in When Tomorrow Comes (1939). Her best 1939 assignment, however, was while on loan-out to David O. Selznick. The 29-year-old O'Neil played Eileen O'Hara, the strong-willed mother of Scarlett O'Hara, in Gone With the Wind. The following year, she was re-teamed with Charles Boyer as the maniacally possessive Duchess de Praslin in All This and Heaven Too, a performance that earned her an Oscar nomination. While she continued making films until 1959, the actress seemed happiest and most fulfilled as a Broadway actress. She retired in 1960 after appearing in the original New York production of Little Moon of Alban. O'Neil died in 1980.