Birth Name: James Maitland Stewart
Born on May 20, 1908 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, US
Died on July 2, 1997 in Beverly Hills, California, US
Jimmy Stewart was a major American movie star known for his portrayals of diffident but morally resolute characters. Stewart was a graduate of Princeton University in the field of architecture and became part of the University Players at Falmouth, Massachusetts, joining such future film actors as Henry Fonda and Margaret Sullavan. He moved to Hollywood in the mid-1930s, but his slow speaking pattern and angular features puzzled directors as to how best to cast him. His naive, engaging manner, however, led to quick acceptance by the movie-going public. Stewart’s first film was Murder Man (1935). In the late 1930s, he appeared in such hit comedies as director Frank Capra’s You Can’t Take It with You (1938) and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). In 1940 his role in The Philadelphia Story earned him an Academy Award. During World War II, Stewart rose from private to colonel in the U.S. Army Air Corps, and as a bomber pilot he flew a number of missions over Germany. The first film he made after the war, Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), is still an annual Christmas classic. In it Stewart played George Bailey, an embittered idealist who is helped to see how significant he has been–despite his frustrated ambitions and his genteel poverty–to his family and his community. Stewart then appeared in several westerns directed by Anthony Mann, including Winchester ’73 (1950), Bend of the River (1952), The Naked Spur (1953), and The Man from Laramie (1955). His performances in Harvey (1950), in the Alfred Hitchcock thrillers Rear Window (1954), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), and Vertigo (1958), and in Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder (1959) are among his greatest. He also portrayed the American bandleader Glenn Miller in The Glenn Miller Story (1953) and the pilot Charles Lindbergh in The Spirit of St. Louis (1957). His last films were westerns, such as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), Shenandoah (1965), and The Shootist (1976).
When James Stewart won the Best Actor Oscar in 1940, he sent it to his father in Indiana, Pennsylvania, who set it in his hardware shop. The trophy remained there for 25 years. He won the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award in 1980 and the The James Stewart Museum was dedicated in Indiana, PA on May 20, 1995. Stewart and his wife have twin daughters – Judy and Kelly.