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James Stewart ACTOR


Jimmy Stewart was born James Maitland Stewart in Pennsylvania on May 20, 1908, the son of a hardware store owner, with Scottish Presbyterian roots.

He was always interested in music (his mother was an excellent pianist), and when his father received an accordion as a gift Jimmy learned how to play it, and often kept it backstage during his career as an actor.

It was during his time at Mercersburg Academy prep school, where he was involved in sports, the choir and glee club, and the literary society, when he made his theatrical debut playing the part of Buquet in the stage play, The Wolves.

Stewart was a member of the Class of 1932 of Princeton, where he studied architecture, but was soon drawn to the school’s drama and music clubs.  Because of his acting and accordion playing talents he was invited to join the University Players, an intercollegiate summer stock company in Massachusetts, where he played bit parts in their productions during the summer of 1932.  It was during his time with the University Players that Jimmy Stewart met Henry Fonda, a previous member of the Players.  The play, ‘Goodbye Again’, had been tried out in the summer stock season, and when Stewart and Fonda moved to New York, where they shared an apartment, Jimmy was cast as a chauffeur in the play on Broadway.  His miniscule role included two lines of dialogue.

According to Stewart, times were tough, and he is quoted as saying that from 1932 through 1934 he had only worked three months, with every play he was cast in folding.  However, he did begin to get better roles, and when he was cast in his first dramatic stage role in ‘Yellow Jack’ he was convinced that he should continue his acting career.

Late in 1934 Bill Grady, an MGM scout, saw Jimmy perform on opening night in ‘Divided by Three’, and at his suggestion and with Henry Fonda’s encouragement, Stewart agreed to take a screen test.  In April, 1935, Jimmy Stewart was signed to a seven-year contract with MGM as a contract player.

His first film role was in “The Murder Man” in 1935, with Spencer Tracy, and then in 1936 he appeared in “Rose Marie” starring the team of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.  His first substantial part was in “After the Thin Man” in 1936.

Jimmy Stewart had met actress Margaret Sullavan while with the University Players, and when they were reunited in Hollywood she pushed the studio to make him her leading man in the romantic comedy, “Next Time We Love” (1936).  With her encouragement, Jimmy’s confidence grew, and she urged him to “be himself” in his roles.  Around that same time he met Leland Hayward, who would become his agent, and who began loaning Jimmy out to other studios for roles.

Director Frank Capra saw Jimmy in “Navy Blue and Gold” in 1937, and realized he was just the type of actor he was looking for, and in 1938 Jimmy Stewart was loaned out to Columbia Pictures where he was cast by Frank Capra in “You Can't Take it with You”, along with comedienne Jean Arthur (the movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture).  Capra was later quoted as saying, “I think he’s probably the best actor who’s ever hit the screen”.

The winning combination of Stewart, Arthur, and Capra was repeated in 1939’s “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, for which Jimmy was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.  “Destry Rides Again” (Stewart’s first Western role), with Jimmy Stewart and Marlene Dietrich, and “Made for Each Other”, with Stewart and Carole Lombard, were also released in 1939.

During this time period, between movies, Jimmy also began a radio career where his distinctive style of talking was soon recognized by many on shows such as “Lux Radio Theatre” and “The Screen Guild Theater”.

In 1940 Margaret Sullavan and Jimmy Stewart were teamed up for two movies: “The Shop Around the Corner” (fans will recognize the story in the more recent film, “You’ve Got Mail”); and “The Mortal Storm”.  That same year he starred in “The Philadelphia Story” for which he would win the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Coinciding with the ending of his contract with MGM, Jimmy Stewart was drafted in late 1940.  His ancestors on his mother’s side of the family had served in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the American Civil War, and his father had served in both the Spanish-American War and World War I.

A licensed pilot since 1935, Jimmy was accepted into the United States Army Air Corps, and in 1941 was the first major American movie star to serve in World War II.  Although at first he was assigned training and recruiting duties, he campaigned strongly and was finally assigned to an active military unit in 1943, and flew many combat missions with the 445th and 453rd Bombardment Groups.

After his discharge James Stewart would continue to be active in the United States Air Force Reserve, and attained the rank of Brigadier General in 1959.  Jimmy Stewart retired from the Air Force in 1968 after twenty-seven years of service.  His military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, four Air Medals, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm.

When he returned from the war in late 1945 Jimmy Stewart decided not to renew his contract with MGM, but rather signed with a talent agency.  Not bound by contract to any studio, he was one of the first independent actors and was able to pick and choose his projects.

His first film after the war was his last with Frank Capra, “It's a Wonderful Life” (1946) co-starring with Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Ward Bond and a host of other great actors.  The American Film Institute has declared the film to be one of the best movies ever made.

James Stewart returned to the stage and starred in “Harvey” for three years, and the play was adapted into film in 1950.  Stewart received his fourth Best Actor nomination for his portrayal of Elwood P. Dowd.

Unsure of his ability to compete with the new crop of rising stars like Marlon Brando and James Dean, Stewart appeared in several movies such as “Magic Town” (1947), “On Our Merry Way” (1948) starring alongside Paulette Goddard, Burgess Meredith, Henry Fonda, Fred MacMurray, William Demarest, Dorothy Lamour and Victor Moore, and “You Gotta Stay Happy” (1949) co-starring Joan Fontaine, Roland Young, Eddie Albert and Percy Kilbride, none of which were successes, and he decided to return to the Western genre in the early 1950’s, with films such as “Broken Arrow” starring with Jeff Chandler, Debra Paget, Jay Silverheels, Arthur Hunnicutt and Will Geer.

Winchester '73” in 1950 was Jimmy Stewart’s first film directed by Anthony Mann, which began a partnership that would produce other great movies such as ”Bend of the River” (1952), “The Far Country” (1954), and “The Man from Laramie” (1955).  But their partnership was not limited to Westerns.  They also collaborated on “The Glenn Miller Story” (1953) co-starring with June Allyson, Harry Morgan and George Tobias and featuring cameo appearance by Louis Armstrong and Gene Krupa, “Thunder Bay” (1953), and “Strategic Air Command” (1955) also starring June Allyson, Frank Lovejoy, Barry Sullivan and James Millican.

From 1953 to 1954 Jimmy Stewart was also starring in “The Six Shooter”, a Western radio show.

Another huge influence on his career was his work with director Alfred Hitchcock.  They had worked together on the 1948 film, “Rope”, and went on to make “Rear Window” (1954), “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1956), and “Vertigo” (1958) together.

John Ford directed Jimmy Stewart in several movies, notably “Two Rode Together” (1961) co-starring Richard Widmark, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962) co-starring John Wayne, Edmond O'Brien, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin, Woody Strode and Andy Devine, “How the West Was Won” (1962) narrated by Spencer Tracy and with a superb cast including Carroll Baker, Walter Brennan, Lee J. Cobb, Andy Devine, Henry Fonda, Carolyn Jones, Karl Malden, Harry Morgan, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, Robert Preston, Debbie Reynolds, Eli Wallach, John Wayne and Richard Widmark, and “Cheyenne Autumn” (1964) co-starring Ricardo Montalban, Gilbert Roland, Carroll Baker, Richard Widmark, Sal Mineo, Karl Malden, Dolores del Rio, Victor Jory, John Carradine, Arthur Kennedy, Patrick Wayne and Edward G. Robinson.

In the 1960’s Jimmy Stewart starred in movies as part of a multi-movie deal with 20th Century Fox.  These included “Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation” (1962) co-starring Maureen O'Hara, Fabian Forte and John Saxon, “Take Her, She's Mine” (1963) starring alongside Sandra Dee, Audrey Meadows, Robert Morley and Bob Denver, and “Dear Brigitte” (1965) starring with Glynis Johns, Ed Wynn, Fabian Forte and of course the woman who's name inspired the title, Brigitte Bardot.

Jimmy Stewart’s career in film covered many genres, including comedies, suspense, Westerns and family films.  As his career in film began to wind down, he continued to make movies in various genres such as “The Flight of the Phoenix” in 1965 featuring Hardy Kruger, Peter Finch, Dan Duryea, George Kennedy, Richard Attenborough and Ernest Borgnine, “The Cheyenne Social Club” in 1970 co-starring Henry Fonda, Shirley Jones and Sue Ane Langdon, “The Shootist” with John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard and Harry Morgan in 1976, “Airport '77” in 1977, and “The Big Sleep” with Robert Mitchum in 1978.  In 1983 he starred with Bette Davis in “Right of Way”, the first made for cable movie.

Besides having been a live stage actor and a renowned movie star, Jimmy Stewart also appeared on television many times.  He was a guest on the Jack Benny Program more than once in the 1950’s, and was a popular guest on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show.

In 1972 he starred in “The Jimmy Stewart Show”, an NBC comedy that aired from 1971-1972, and from 1973-1974 in the CBS mystery “Hawkins”.  He also filmed several television movies in the 1980’s, including “Mr. Krueger’s Christmas”.

His final role in film was as the voice of Sheriff Wylie Burp in “An American Tale: Fievel Goes West” in 1991.  From 1935 to 1991 he appeared in 92 films, television programs, and shorts.

He was nominated five times for Academy Awards, in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, It's a Wonderful Life” starring alongside Donna Reed, “Harvey”, “Anatomy of a Murder” co-starring Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, George C. Scott and Arthur O'Connell and “The Philadelphia Story” starring with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.  He won the Academy Award for his role in “The Philadelphia Story”, and also won a Golden Globe Award for the television series “Hawkins”.

He is the most represented leading actor on The American Film Institute’s 10 Top 10 lists, on their 100 Years / 100 Movies list, and on Entertainment Weekly’s 100 Greatest Movies of All Time list, and has been named the third Greatest Male Star of all time by AFI.

When Jimmy Stewart was 79 he was asked how he wanted to be remembered.  He replied, “As someone who believed in hard work and love of country, love of family and love of community.”

Jimmy Stewart died at his home in Beverly Hills, California, on July 02, 1997.



1934-1935      Lux Radio Theatre

1939-1952      The Screen Guild Theater

1953-1954      The Six Shooter


1935              The Murder Man

1936              Rose Marie

1936              Next Time We Love

1936              Wife vs. Secretary

1936              Small Town Girl

1936              Speed

1936              The Gorgeous Hussy

1936              Born to Dance

1936              After the Thin Man

1937              Seventh Heaven

1937              The Last Gangster

1937              Navy Blue and Gold

1938              Of Human Hearts

1938              Vivacious Lady

1938              The Shopworn Angel

1938              You Can't Take It With You

1939              Made for Each Other

1939              The Ice Follies of 1939

1939              It's a Wonderful World

1939              Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

1939              Destry Rides Again

1940              The Shop Around the Corner

1940              The Mortal Storm

1940              No Time for Comedy

1940              The Philadelphia Story

1941              Come Live with Me

1941              Pot o' Gold

1941              Ziegfeld Girl

1946              It's a Wonderful Life

1947              Magic Town

1948              Call Northside 777

1948              On Our Merry Way

1948              Rope

1948              You Gotta Stay Happy

1949              The Stratton Story

1949              Malaya

1950              Winchester '73

1950              Broken Arrow

1950              Harvey

1950              The Jackpot

1951              No Highway in the Sky

1952              The Greatest Show on Earth

1952              Bend of the River

1952              Carbine Williams

1953              The Naked Spur

1953              Thunder Bay

1953              The Glenn Miller Story

1954              Rear Window

1954              The Far Country

1955              Strategic Air Command

1955              The Man from Laramie

1955              Artists and Models (cameo)

1956              The Man Who Knew Too Much

1957              The Spirit of St. Louis

1957              Night Passage

1958              Vertigo

1958              Bell, Book and Candle

1959              Anatomy of a Murder

1959              The FBI Story

1960              The Mountain Road

1961              Two Rode Together

1962              The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

1962              Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation

1962              How the West Was Won

1963              Take Her, She's Mine

1964              Cheyenne Autumn

1965              Dear Brigitte

1965              Shenandoah

1965              The Flight of the Phoenix

1966              The Rare Breed

1968              Firecreek

1968              Bandolero!

1970              The Cheyenne Social Club

1971              Fools' Parade

1976              The Shootist

1977              Airport '77

1978              The Big Sleep

1978              The Magic of Lassie

1981              The Green Horizon (voice only)

1991              An American Tail: Fievel Goes West


1950’s           The Jack Benny Program

1962              Flashing Spikes

1971-1972     The Jimmy Stewart Show

1972              Harvey

1973-1974     Hawkins

1980              Mr. Krueger's Christmas

1983              Right of Way

1986              North and South, Book II 

Matinee Classics - Pot O' Gold starring James Stewart, Paulette Goddard, Horace Heidt, Charles Winninger, Mary Gordon, Frank Melton, Jed Prouty, Charlie Arnt, Dick Hogan, James Burke, Donna Wood and Larry Cotton
Matinee Classics - After the Thin Man starring William Powell, Myrna Loy and James Stewart
Matinee Classics - No Time for Comedy starring James Stewart, Rosalind Russell, Charlie Ruggles, Genevieve Tobin, Louise Beavers, Allyn Joslyn, Clarence Kolb, Robert Greig, J.M. Kerrigan, Lawrence Grossmith, Robert Emmett O'Connor, Herbert Heywood, Frank Faylen, James Burke and Edgar Dearing
Matinee Classics - Victory Theater Radio Show
Matinee Classics - Night Passage starring James Stewart, Audie Murphy, Dan Duryea, Dianne Foster, Elaine Stewart, Brandon de Wilde, Jay C. Flippen, Herbert Anderson, Robert J. Wilke, Hugh Beaumont, Jack Elam, Tommy Cook, Paul Fix, Olive Carey, James Flavin, Donald Curtis, Ellen Corby, John Daheim, Kenny Williams, Frank Chase, Harold Goodwin, Harold Hart, Jack C. Williams, Boyd Stockman, Henry Wills, Chuck Roberson, William W. Willingham, Polly Burson, Patsy Novak, Ted Mapes, Edwin C. Johnson and
Matinee Classics - Call Northside 777 starring James Stewart, Richard Conte, Lee J. Cobb, Helen Walker, Betty Garde, Kasia Orzazewski, Joanne De Bergh, Howard Smith, Moroni Olsen, J.M. Kerrigan, John McIntire, Paul Harvey, George Tyne, Michael Chapin, Leonarde Keeler, E.G. Marshall, Walter Greaza, Thelma Ritter and Lionel Stander
Matinee Classics - Night Passage starring James Stewart, Audie Murphy, Dan Duryea, Dianne Foster, Elaine Stewart, Brandon de Wilde, Jay C. Flippen, Herbert Anderson, Robert J. Wilke, Hugh Beaumont, Jack Elam, Tommy Cook, Paul Fix, Olive Carey, James Flavin, Donald Curtis, Ellen Corby, John Daheim, Kenny Williams, Frank Chase, Harold Goodwin, Harold Hart, Jack C. Williams, Boyd Stockman, Henry Wills, Chuck Roberson, William W. Willingham, Polly Burson, Patsy Novak, Ted Mapes, Edwin C. Johnson and
Matinee Classics - How the West Was Won starring John Wayne, James Stewart, Debbie Reynolds, Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Carol Baker, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, Harry Morgan, Walter Brennan, Lee Van Cleef, Agnes Moorehead and Robert Preston
Matinee Classics - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance starring John Wayne, James Stewart, Vera Miles, Edmond OBrien, Lee Marvin, Andy Devine, Ken Murray, John Carradine, Jeanette Nolan, John Qualen, Willis Bouchey, Carelton Young, Woody Strode, Denver Pyle, Strother Martin, Lee Van Cleef, Robert F. Simon, O.Z. Whitehead, Paul Birch and Joseph Hoover
Matinee Classics - The Shootist starring John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, Ron Howard, James Stewart, Bill McKinney, Richard Boone, John Carradine, Scatman Crothers, Harry Morgan, Hugh OBrian and Sheree North

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