A popular screen legend of Hollywood’s Golden Age, who is among the most honored and beloved actors in film history, and a World War II military officer.
American James Maitland Stewart, also known as Jimmy Stewart, was a film and stage actor whose portrayals of decent, noble characters endeared him to millions of film lovers. The real Jimmy Stewart, was the respectable, unpretentious, all-American guy he often portrayed on film, despite his fame and fortune.
Stewart made more than 80 films in his lifetime and was known for classic films such as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’. He won the best actor Oscar for his performance in ‘The Philadelphia Story’ in 1940. He also received the Screen Actors Guild Award in 1958 and in 1983 he received the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award.
As the highest-ranking actor in military history, Steward was a World War II and Vietnam War veteran and pilot, who rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the United States Air Force Reserve. He was awarded the United States Air Force Distinguished Service Medal. In 1985, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan.
A beloved national icon, James Stewart known for his distinctive drawl and down-to-earth persona passed away aged 89, on July 2, 1997, in his home in Los Angeles, California, USA.
Name:   James  Stewart Born:   20 May 1908 Star Sign: Taurus Died:   2 July 1997 Birthplace: Pennsylvania Country: Indiana (IN) United States
DetailsOther Names Jimmy, Maitland Father: Alexander Maitland Stewart, Mother: Elizabeth Ruth Johnson Marriages: Gloria Stewart (9 August 1949 - 16 February 1994-her death) Children: Twin daughters, Judy and Kelly. Michael and Ronald - Gloria's sons that Steward adopted
Childhood James Maitland (Jimmy) Stewart was born on 20 May 1908 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, to Elizabeth Ruth Johnson and Alexander Maitland Stewart who maintained a hardware store. James was the eldest of three children, two sisters Virginia and Mary. Jame's mother was an excellent pianist and Stewart wanted to learn, but his father discouraged it.When Jame's father accepted an accordion as a gift from a guest, young Stewart quickly learned to play the instrument which became a fixture offstage during his acting career. Music became an important part of the Stewart family life.
Education Stewart attended Mercersburg Academy and was a keen athlete. He played football and was part of the track team. As he continued playing his accordion, Stewart also became involved in acting and appeared in his first stage play - 'The Wolves' at Mercersburg. In 1928, Stewart graduated from Mercersburg Academy. The 19 years old, Steward was fascinated by the legendary flight of Charles Lindbergh and he wanted to become an aviator.He abandoned visions of being a pilot when his father insisted that he attend Princeton University and study architecture. There, Stewart excelled at architecture and for his thesis on an airport design, Stewart was awarded a scholarship for graduate studies. But, Stewart was more attracted to acting when he graduated in 1932.
Best Actor Awards In 1934, Stewart followed his friend, Henry Fonda to Hollywood. They shared an apartment, and the two friends built and painted model airplanes, a hobby they shared in their spare times. In 1934, Stewart made his first screen appearance in 'Art Trouble' then in 1935 with Spencer Tracy in 'The Murder Man'.In 1938, Stewart starred in, 'You Can't Take It With You' and 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' in which he won Best Actor. In 1941, Stewart won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in 'The Philadelphia Story'. He sends his statue to his father, who proudly displayed it in his hardware shop window for 25 years.
World War II James Stewart was the first Hollywood star to enter the service during World War II. In 1940, he was drafted into the U.S. Army as a private. During World War II Stewart rose to the rank of colonel, first as an instructor and later on combat missions in Europe.After the war, Stewart remained involved with the U.S. Air Force Reserve and retired in 1959 as a Brigadier General. Stewart earned - the Air Medal, the Croix de Guerre, the Distinguished Flying Cross and seven battle stars.
Stewarts most Valued Roles In 1948, Stewart met Gloria Hatrick McLean after accepting a dinner invitation at Gary and Rocky Cooper's home. Gloria stole Stewart’s heart. At aged 41 years old, Stewart married Gloria on August 9, 1949 and had a ready-made family. Gloria had two children from her previous marriage.On May 7, 1951, fraternal twins Kelly and Judy were born. Although the Stewart's lived in Beverly Hills, they still contained that small-town Christian Presbyterian ethics and values.
Pro-War roles in great movies In 1952, Stewart's took the role of George Bailey in Frank Capra's classic, 'It's a Wonderful Life' with Donna Reed. The same year, he starred in the Cecille B. DeMille's film: 'The Greatest Show on Earth' with Charlton Heston and Dorothy Lamour.In 1954, Stewart starred with June Allyson in 'The Glenn Miller Story' then with Grace Kelly in Hitchcock's film, 'Rear Window'. He starred in other Hitchcock's movies including: 'The Rope'; 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' and 'Vertigo' with Kim Novak in 1958.
Awards and Recognitions In 1959, Stewart starred in 'Stars in Anatomy of a Murder' then starred with John Wayne in John Ford's film 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance'. Stewart won Best Actor for 'Anatomy of a Murder' from the New York Film Critics Circle. Stewart was awarded 'The Cecil B. DeMille Award' at the Golden Globe Awards. In 1973, he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor-Drama for the TV series 'Hawkins.'
Lifetime Achievement Award Although remembered for his wholesome roles in movies like 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,' Stewart was also an actor of tremendous emotional range. He was nominated for five Academy Awards and won one for 'The Philadelphia Story' in 1940. He was awarded the 'American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award' in 1980. Stewart was named one of the greatest male screen legend of the Golden Age Hollywood by the American Film Institute.
Awards and Recognition As a Brigadier General in the United States Air Force Reserves, Stewart was the highest ranking entertainer in the U.S. military. He was awarded an honorary master’s degree in 1947, and had served as a University trustee from 1959-1963.The American Red Cross presented him with their Humanitarian Award for service to his fellow man. The National Council of the Boy Scouts of America presented Stewart with the Silver Buffalo Award - display at the Museum for his 'distinguished service to boyhood'.
Marriage and Family Stewart was a kind, soft-spoken man and a true professional. He raised his children with Christian values and ethic. When he married Gloria Hatrick McLean, he adopted his step sons, Ronald and Michael. Sadly, Ronald was killed in action while serving in the Vietnam War in 1969.In 1951, Gloria gave birth to twin girls - Judy Stewart-Merrill and Kelly Stewart-Harcourt. On February 16, 1994, Gloria passed away after 44 years of marriage. Stewart faded away after her death and on 2 July, 1997 he passed away. Facts Stewart was not happy receiving the Best Actor Award for his performance in 'The Philadelphia Story'. He felt Henry Fonda for 'The Grapes of Wrath' should have won.Stewart worked as brick loader for a local construction company and painted lines on highways during his summer breaks.Seeing the need for more trained pilots during the War, he and other Hollywood celebrities invested in 'Thunderbird Field' a Pilot training school in Grendale, Arizona. It later became part of US Army Air Force training facility.After initially rejected from the Army due to him being under weight for his height, Stewart sought Don Loomis, a trainer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to help improve his weight to 143 pounds.Stewart was honored with Distinguished Flying Cross for his achievements as deputy commander of the 2nd Combat Bombardment Wing in February 1944. He flew 2 more missions that week.He retired from Air Force on 31 May, 1968, after 27 years of service.Since 2003, “The James M. Stewart Good Citizenship Award”, was established for Boy Scouts.Stewart and Henry Fonda, a fellow actor had been best friend despite having different political ideologies. Stewart said, "we just didn’t talk about certain things. I can’t remember ever having an argument with him- ever!”On the sets of “Two Rode Together,” Stewart and Richard Widmark wore hairpieces and both had hearing problems. Frustrated, John Ford shouted 'Great, so this is what my career has come to- directing two deaf hairpieces!'Stewart felt miscast as a 28 year old in 'How the West Was Won' in 1962, as he was 54 at the time. Initially, the choice was Gary Cooper, but he died before filming began.Quotes "Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.""Fear is an insidious and deadly thing. It can warp judgment, freeze reflexes, breed mistakes. Worse, it's contagious.""Having friends around for a pleasant evening is one of life's most cherished joys as far as I am concerned. But when those with me are fellow believers, how much greater that joy is, for we know that it's rekindled, one day in eternity.""You have to develop a style that suits you and pursue it, not just develop a bag of tricks. Always be yourself.""Learn from the masters, learn from your contemporaries. Always try to update yourself.""You must be oh-so smart, or oh-so pleasant. For years I was smart. I recommend pleasant...and you may quote me.""You know, people seldom go to the trouble of scratching the surface of things to find the inner truth.""I wouldn't give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn't have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little looking out for the other fella too.""The problem of evil is raised more often by spectators of life than the actual combatants. You will hardly ever find that the great sufferers are the great skeptics.""If I had my career over again? Maybe I'd say to myself, speed it up a little."Funeral
In 1997, Stewart was hospitalized for an irregular heartbeat and a blood clot in his right knee. In July 2, 1997, Stewart died of cardiac arrest at his home in Beverly Hills aged 89. He was surrounded by his children and his last words were - 'I'm going to be with Gloria now'.President Bill Clinton said, 'America had lost a national treasure, a great actor, a gentleman and a patriot'. Over 3,000 attended Stewart's memorial service, which included a firing of three volleys for his service in the Air Forces. Stewart's remains are interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.