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Place of Death
Beverly Hills, California
Cause of Death
Claim to Fame
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Actor/Actress, Soundtrack, Director
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James Maitland Stewart (May 20, 1908 – July 2, 1997) was an American film and stage actor, known for his distinctive drawl voice and down-to-earth persona. Over the course of his career, he starred in many films widely considered classics. He was known for normally portraying the average American Middle Class man, with everyday life struggles, in his films.
Stewart was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one in competition and receiving one Lifetime Achievement award. Stewart was named the third greatest male screen legend in cinema history by the American Film Institute. He was a major Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract star. He also had a noted military career and was a World War II and Vietnam War veteran, who rose to the rank of Major General in the United States Air Force Reserve.
The actor Cary Grant said of Stewart's acting technique, "He had the ability to talk naturally. He knew that in conversations people do often interrupt one another and it's not always so easy to get a thought out. It took a little time for the sound men to get used to him, but he had an enormous impact. And then, some years later, Marlon came out and did the same thing all over again-- but what people forget is that Jimmy did it first."
James Maitland Stewart was born on May 20, 1908, in Indiana, Pennsylvania, the son of Elizabeth Ruth (née Jackson) and Alexander Maitland Stewart, who owned a hardware store. Stewart had Scottish and Irish ancestry, and was raised in a Presbyterian home. He was descended from veterans of the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the American Civil War. The eldest of three children (he had two younger sisters, Virginia and Mary), he was expected to continue his father's business, which had been in the family for three generations. His mother was an excellent pianist but his father discouraged Stewart's request for lessons. But when his father accepted a gift of an accordion from a guest, young Stewart quickly learned to play the instrument, which became a fixture off-stage during his acting career. As the family grew, music continued to be an important part of family life.
Stewart attended Mercersburg Academy prep school, graduating in 1929. He was active in a variety of activities. He played on the football and track teams, was art editor of the KARUX yearbook, and a member of the choir club, glee club, and John Marshall Literary Society. During his first summer break, Stewart returned to his hometown to work as a brick loader for a local construction company and on highway and road construction jobs where he painted lines on the roads. Over the following two summers, he took a job as an assistant with a professional magician. He made his first appearance onstage at Mercersburg, as Buquet in the play The Wolves.
A shy child, Stewart spent much of his after-school time in the basement working on model airplanes, mechanical drawing and chemistry—all with a dream of going into aviation. But he abandoned visions of being a pilot when his father insisted that instead of the United States Naval Academy he attend Princeton University. Stewart enrolled at Princeton in 1928 as a member of the class of 1932. He excelled at studying architecture, so impressing his professors with his thesis on an airport design that he was awarded a scholarship for graduate studies;but he gradually became attracted to the school's drama and music clubs, including the Princeton Triangle Club. His acting and accordion talents at Princeton led him to be invited to the University Players, an intercollegiate summer stock company in West Falmouth, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. The company had been organized in 1928 and would run until 1932, with Joshua Logan, Bretaigne Windust, and Charles Leatherbee as directors. Stewart performed in bit parts in the Players' productions in Cape Cod during the summer of 1932, after he graduated.
The troupe had previously included Henry Fonda, who married Margaret Sullavan on Christmas Day 1931, while the players were in Baltimore, Maryland for an 18-week winter season. Sullavan, who had rejoined the Players in Baltimore in November 1931 at the close of the post-Broadway tour of A Modern Virgin, left the Players for good at the end of The Trial of Mary Dugan in Baltimore in March 1932. By the time Stewart joined the University Players on Cape Cod after his graduation from Princeton in 1932, Fonda and Sullavan's brief marriage had ended. Stewart and Fonda became great friends over the summer of 1932 when they shared an apartment with Joshua Logan and Myron McCormick. When Stewart came to New York at the end of the summer stock season, which had included the Broadway try-out of Goodbye Again, he shared an apartment with Fonda, who had by then finalized his divorce from Sullavan. Along with fellow University Players Alfred Dalrymple and Myron McCormick, Stewart debuted on Broadway as a chauffeur in the comedy Goodbye Again, in w
Princeton University (1932)
Full Name at Birth
James Maitland Stewart
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Soft-spoken, extremely polite and shy mannered., Often played honest, average middle class individuals., Roles in westerns., After 1950 he often played tough, cynical and frequently ruthless characters.
Alexander Maitland Stewart
Elizabeth Ruth "Bessie" Jackson Stewart
Henry Fonda, John Wayne, Ward Bond, Ronald Reagan, Gary Cooper (Accepted his friend Gary Cooper's honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in 1961, because Cooper was dying of cancer), Richard Nixon, Dean Martin, Burgess Meredith, Frank Capra, June Allyson, Fred MacMurray, Irene Dunne, Charles Feldman, Jean Howard, Danny Kaye, Bette Davis, Ben Blue, Victor Fleming, Myron McCormick, Bob Hope, Nancy Davis, Lew Wasserman, Robert Stack, Esther Williams, Carol Burnett, Leland Hayward, Jack Benny, Rosalind Russell, David Chasen, Bill Brady Jr, Franchot Tone, David Niven, Andy Devine, Ann Coyle, Cecelia Drapper, Connie Cerrito, Bill Frye, Henry Nicklas (Barber), Major Andy Low, General Jimmy Doolittle, Robert Riskin
Bello (Dog - Gloria's German Shepherd when Jimmy met her and they married), Simba (Dog - Golden Retriever), Beau (Dog - A Golden Retriever they got to be pals with Simba), Bounce (Dog - Jimmy's boyhood first dog, followed him home from school and his father said he could keep him when no one claimed him)
Jimmy Stewart and His Poems  (Crown Publishers)
Andy Low, Robert Perry, Joshua Logan, Mary Benny, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Harold Lloyd, William Powell, Dolores Del Rio, Red Skelton, Phyllis Kennedy, Stewart Granger
James Maitland "Jimmy" Stewart (May 20, 1908 – July 2, 1997) was an American film and stage actor, known for his distinctive drawl and down-to-earth persona. He starred in many films that are considered to be classics and is known for portraying an American middle class man struggling with a crisis.
Mary Stewart, Virginia Stewart
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(1970s) TV commercial: Firestone Tires, TV commercial (voiceover): Campbell's Soup