James Stewart (1908-1997)
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One of the most beloved Hollywood superstars, Jimmy Stewart became an American icon, due to his idiosyncratic style, ineffable charm, plus the good fortune of
having worked with many of the greatest directors in Hollywood, including Frank Capra, Ernst Lubitsch, Anthony Mann, George Stevens, Alfred Hitchcock, and John Ford. Stewart was a star in essentially two distinct incarnations. He was a light-comedy leading man of the late 1930s and much of the 1940s and then a western and action star in the 1950s.
Though he had acted while in college in the Princeton University Triangle Club, he did not take his performing seriously until his fellow classmate Joshua Logan convinced him to give the theater a try after graduation. Stewart agreed and joined
Stewart's first starring role was in a "B" movie, Speed (1936), and it took two directors outside of MGM to recognize Stewart's talent and appeal. Loaned out from MGM, George Stevens put him in two romantic comedies at RKO, the first with Ginger Rogers, Vivacious Lady (1938), and the second, The Shopworn Angel (1938), with pal Margaret Sullavan. Both were hits, and Stewart had become a bona-fide
MGM continued to loan him out, this time for the comic western Destry Rides Again (1939), another hit. The actor's remarkable string of hits was finally abetted by MGM, which happily paired him with Margaret Sullavan in two excellent films, The Shop Around the Corner (1940) and The Mortal Storm (1940). That same year he also joined Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant in The Philadelphia Story (1940), this time winning his one and only Best Actor Oscar.
Stewart made several other films before leaving
Between 1950 and 1955, Stewart starred in six westerns, all but one of them directed by Mann. Every one was a hit, and they presented a new Stewart persona. Instead of the sweet innocence of the 1930s and 1940s, he exhibited a hard edge of cynicism, anger, and violence. The actor starred in the first of his four Hitchcock thrillers in Rope (1948), but the movie was a flop. In the 1950s, however, Stewart starred in three of Hitchcock's best films of that decade, Rear Window (1954) with Grace Kelly, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), and Vertigo (1958). Thanks to the westerns and Hitchcock films, 20 years after his motion picture debut, he was the number-one box office draw in the world.
He starred in
Although this tribute was produced just prior to Mr Stewart's passing we think it is quite special and we thought you would enoy it.