He had a distinct drawl; he was a down-to-earth man who stood up against multiple genres and almost always came out on top. He was married to a single woman; he drove an old car and more. We’ll go through Jimmy’s life, his movie roles, and everything else you’ve ever wanted to know about this legendary leading man.
A Small Start to a Big Star
Born on May 20th, 1908, in Indiana, Pennsylvania – yes, a town named Indiana in Pennsylvania – James Maitland Stewart was the oldest child of Elizabeth Rush and Alexander Maitland Stewart. They came from Scottish and Scotch-Irish families, and they were hardworking folk. The real crust of the Earth kind of people. Father ran J.M. Stewart and Company hardware store, the family business for several generations, and it was always assumed that Jimmy would take over the store.
Stewart had a pair of younger sisters, Mary and Virginia, and he was a devout churchgoer for much of his life, having been raised by a deeply religious father. Already, we can see that Stewart isn’t going to be the normal Hollywood hero – everybody knows Sunday morning is when you sleep off Saturday evening.
Music was always a big part of Stewart’s life, thanks to his pianist mother. In fact, a customer who was unable to pay a bill at the hardware store while Stewart was a child eventually convinced the elder Stewart to accept an old accordion as payment. Stewart learned to play the instrument with the help of a local barber – the accordion would become a regular member of Stewart’s retinue while he was acting.
Jimmy was shy as a child, spending a lot of his free time in the basement of his family home. He studied chemistry, made mechanical drawings, and built model airplanes – His dream at that young age was to go into aviation. He struggled in school, but not because of a lack of intelligence – he was plenty creative and had a tendency to daydream.
A Hard Time in School
The goal was for Jimmy to take over the hardware store after graduating from college, but it wasn’t so easy. Apparently, Stewart had below-average grades in school. Just being able to get into college was tough enough, but no one ever expected him to become an incredible movie star. His father had attended Princeton University – not the easiest school to get into, no matter what year it is – and the hope was for Jimmy to take the same path.
He got sent to a prep school in order to bump up his grades and get a chance. This included a large number of extra-curricular activities such as running track...and acting in the school play. It also included activities such as the glee club and the art editor of the yearbook.
Taking a Year Off
While he was doing all that stuff (including his first play, acting as Buquet in the play “The Wolves” in 1928), he would return home during the summer to work as a brick loader and, then, as a magician’s assistant. It is a good way to learn how to command people’s attention. He came down with scarlet fever in 1927, which turned into a kidney infection, requiring him to stay out of school, thus delaying his graduation until 1928.
His passion for aviation continued through this time, and it only increased after the first solo transatlantic flight by Charles Lindbergh. However, as he was steered toward Princeton, Stewart realized that his chances of entering the field were starting to become slim. Fret not, however – he would eventually find himself in a plane’s cockpit.
Taking his Time Finding His Calling
After graduating from prep school in 1928, Stewart moved on to Princeton. While he had enjoyed his time as an actor in school, he wasn’t focused on it as a major – instead, he studied architecture. For someone hoping or intending to manage a hardware store, there are certainly worse choices.
His time at Princeton continued apace, without much to speak of – except that he continued to enjoy his time on stage, even joining the University Players, a Massachusetts theater company. After he graduated from Princeton, the company took him around the United States as an actor, and he even had a short run on Broadway the same year he graduated – not bad for a kid who was studying architecture.
Already Earning Awards
By the time Stewart had graduated from Princeton, he was awarded a scholarship for graduate studies in architecture for his thesis on – what else – a design for an airport terminal. He could have stepped into the design world, and he might have been almost as famous as he ended up becoming, but he stuck with the University Players and moved into acting full time.
It was during these early years after graduation that Stewart met another name you might be familiar with: Henry Fonda. The two of them moved to New York to further their acting careers together. Stewart had a few small stage roles that resulted in short and unsuccessful runs, and he began to reconsider his career path. He had plenty of time left to pivot to something that would work better, but he stuck with it.
A Lead Role on Broadway
1934, as the Great Depression was raging and World War II was just a few years off, was a changing year for Stewart. He was able to get the lead role in the play “Yellow Jack,” about a soldier who becomes the subject of a yellow fever experiment. The play premiered at the Martin Beck Theater in March of 1934 on Broadway.
And while the play – and Jimmy’s performance in particular – received critical praise, the show was unpopular with audiences and closed down by June. It was something that Stewart had gotten used to in the last few years. However, 1934 would have another big step forward for the young star: an introduction to the movies.
His First Film Role
In the summer of that year, Stewart appeared in an uncredited role in the comedy short “Art Trouble,” created by none other than one of the Three Stooges, Shemp Howard. This was before he had rejoined the Stooges, but he was still one of the founding members. “Art Trouble” was a mere 21 minutes, and it was similar in nature to the kind of comedy you might see from The Three Stooges.
Stewart played “Burton,” though he wasn’t given a place in the credits and likely didn’t have any lines in the short. The film’s most notable aspect is that it was Stewart’s first appearance in a filmed project, but it would take a little while longer for Stewart’s film career to take off.
A Few More Chances on the Stage
After his film debut came and went without much fanfare, Stewart headed back to the stage for another year. He acted in summer stock productions of “We Die Exquisitely” and “All Paris Knows” while in Long Island, and then in the fall, he once again made critical waves for a role he had in “Divided by Three.” After that was the similarly successful “Page Miss Glory,” and finished up with the play “A Journey By Night” in the spring of 1935, which was a critical failure.
However, Stewart’s star was on the rise, and everybody knew it. That same year, 1935, he’d get a long contract with one of the biggest movie studios in Hollywood. It wouldn’t be too much longer before “Stewart” was a household name.
Not Yet a Golden Boy
Jimmy Stewart signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on a huge seven-year contract, having been discovered by talent scout Bill Grady, who had been following Stewart’s career ever since seeing him on stage at Princeton. Stewart wasn’t at all like a big star, so they didn’t cast him in leading roles right out of the gate – you have to work up to that kind of role. His first role while under contract was in the film “The Murder Man” in 1935, starring Spencer Tracy.
Not much has been said about this role, but one critic said he was already being wasted in a small role that he nevertheless makes his own. His next appearance was in the hit musical “Rose Marie” in 1936 – another small role, but again one that he excelled in.
A Busy Year
Stewart was off and running. His success in his first few movies led him to appear in a total of seven more films within the next year, starting with “Next Time We Love” and finishing up with “After the Thin Man.” Some of these roles were loan-outs, where MGM would allow Stewart to appear in a movie being produced by another company as long as that second company paid MGM a fee. A common practice in the era and one that allowed Stewart to build his confidence and beef up his resume.
Not only that, but he received a big boost from a friend he had worked with in the University Players by the name of Margaret Sullavan, an actress of some eventual fame, including becoming Henry Fonda’s wife. She petitioned for Stewart to become her leading man in the rom-com “Next Time We Love,” which was filmed right after “Rose Marie.”
Working on His Skills
In order to prepare for his film with Margaret Sullavan, she and Stewart rehearsed extensively, allowing him to boost his confidence and begin to incorporate his natural boyish charms and manners into the personas that he brought to the screen. The film ended up becoming a big box-office success and also garnered a good amount of critical praise – this led to Stewart falling under the eye of MGM executives and critics to a much greater degree.
One critic even said that Stewart was a welcome addition to the rotation of Hollywood’s leading men. Another said that it was clear that the path Hollywood should take would lead them to more figures like Stewart. He had been given a big boost, and more was yet to come.
Another Good Year
1936 would continue to pay off for Stewart. He had supporting roles in a pair of winning romantic comedies, “Wife vs. Secretary” and “Small Town Girl.” Coincidentally, in both, he played the original boyfriend of the leading lady who would have to go home empty by the time the credits ran. He was then able to get top billing in the low-budget movie “Speed,” which had him as a mechanic and race driver competing in the then-nascent Indianapolis 500.
This film was a critical and commercial failure, though Stewart’s performance was found to be at least competent. 1936 finished out with three more films, all of them performing well (though his time as the lead in “Born to Dance” made him realize he wasn’t much of a singer or a dancer).
Toward the End of the Decade
Stewart’s time at the movies went through quick ups and downs during this period. His emotional climax in “After the Thin Man” proved he had dramatic acting chops. He joined French actress Simone Simon, just as miscast as he was, in the romantic drama “Seventh Heaven,” a painful commercial and critical failure. He received critical acclaim from “Navy Blue and Gold” in 1937 as a football player in the United States Naval Academy.
It was his best-reviewed film up to that point. Critics noticed that he could hold up against the best of them when it came to acting, but he hadn’t yet moved into the upper echelon of the MGM roster. Thankfully, that would change in 1938, no matter how much MGM dragged its feet.
Meeting Miss Rogers
Despite the critical appeal Stewart was beginning to develop, he was still a minor star at best, and MGM was hesitant to cast him as a lead in a big movie. They preferred to loan him out to other studios, such as RKO. He joined Hollywood queen Ginger Rogers for “Vivacious Lady,” which included an undisclosed illness and a hospital visit for Stewart. The project was briefly canceled, but following Rogers’s success in a stage musical, the film was put back into production.
While Stewart initially wasn’t a favorite of Rogers, she insisted he return as the leading man. Her intuition was correct: the film was a critical and commercial success and was a tour de force for Stewart, who showed off his talent for acting in romantic comedies. The critical praise increased, and Stewart would soon meet a very important man in his life.
The Role of a Star
Another one of these loaned-out roles was to a man named Frank Capra, who had been making movies for a little while. Capra wanted Stewart to play the lead role in his 1938 movie “You Can’t Take It With You,” alongside Jean Arthur. Stewart plays the son of a banker who falls in love with a woman from a poor family, yet there is energy and light in her life, unlike in his.
Capra had been looking for a new kind of leading man, and he had been interested in Stewart since seeing “Navy Blue and Gold.” Thanks to this combination of director and star, “You Can’t Take It With You” became the year’s fifth-highest-grossing movie and won the Best Picture award.
A Partnership that Worked
The three films after “You Can’t Take it With You” were all disappointments – commercially, at least. He was in “Made for Each Other” and managed to get favorable reviews, but the other two couldn’t even get that much. After those three, Capra called Stewart up again and asked him if he wanted a role in a little movie called “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Stewart, playing an idealist thrown into the political machine, garnered rapturous critical praise and ended up as the third-highest-grossing film of the year.
Thanks to Stewart’s acting in the film, he was immediately shot to stardom. The part of Mr. Smith was by no means an easy one for an actor of any caliber, and Stewart proved that he could do it all when you put him in front of a camera, except for maybe singing and dancing.
An Unforgettable Film
“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” has been called one of the greatest films of all time. Considering just how many great films there are out there, it’s hard to understate the accomplishment. It was selected by the Library of Congress as one of the first 25 films to be preserved in the National Film Registry in 1989 for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” The movie was nominated for a grand total of eleven Academy Awards.
These include Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (that would be Stewart), and Best Original Story, the last of which it won. Because of the film, Stewart won Best Actor at the 1939 New York Film Critics Circle. It’s been remade, referenced, parodied, and more, but it remains beloved and an unmissable film for movie aficionados.
Famous Enough for Parody
There’s a line that says imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and it’s kind of true. In 1939, after another winning film called “Destry Rides Again,” a Western,” Stewart also became part of the “Lux Radio Theater,” “The Screen Guild Theater,” and other shows where you would only hear his voice. And his voice was becoming not only part of his charm but an incredibly important part of his character.
His slow, meandering drawl was unique, memorable, and a prime candidate for comedians who wanted to do impersonations. Not only was Stewart famous enough to make fun of – in and of itself, not a simple task – but he had a distinct, non-visual feature that people could do that well tell others IMMEDIATELY who they were imitating. No doubt about it – Stewart was a star.
Taking a Stand
In 1940, a certain big – life-changing, world-changing, history-altering – event had begun across the pond. World War II was raging, and while the United States hadn’t jumped in with both feet just yet, they were still allied against the German regime. Stewart and Margaret Sullavan reunited for the drama “The Mortal Storm,” which featured the two as lovers navigating the turmoil of Hitler’s rise to power.
It was one of the first blatantly anti-German regime films to be produced in Hollywood. Ultimately, however, it made little impact on the public perception of the war since it failed to show the true atrocities that were happening in Germany. While the movie found plenty of critical reception, it failed at the box office. Ten days after finishing filming, Stewart moved on to “No Time for Comedy,” another failure at the box office.
Award Season Compensation
Stewart’s final film in 1940 was an important one. He played a fast-talking reporter in “The Philadelphia Story,” sent to cover the wedding of a socialite, played by Katharine Hepburn. It was a box-office smash, and it had widespread critical acclaim. Stewart not only provided most of the comedy but a great deal of the film’s emotional impact, too.
Critics found his performance amazing, and the Academy Awards agreed with him, giving him the Oscar for Best Actor in a tough year – he beat out his friend Henry Fonda, whom he had voted for. Stewart himself believes his performance in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” was better, and his award in 1940 was recompensing him for denying him earlier. He gave the Oscar to his father, who put it on display at his hardware store.
Three More Films
Stewart had three more films come out before he would take a short break from filming. None of them are very well-remembered, but the final offering, “Ziegfield Girl,” was at least a good box-office performer. It also had a handful of famous female names, such as Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr, and Lana Turner. The other films were “Come Live With Me,” a run-of-the-mill failure, and “Pot o Gold,” which put Stewart up against Paulette Goddard.
Not only was this film also a critical and commercial failure, but Stewart considered it both the worst film he ever appeared in as well as the worst performance he had ever given for a film. It might have been because of the song he sang for the soundtrack, “When Johnny Toots His Horn.”
War Has Come
Yes, it’s true that Jimmy Stewart took a break from filming commercial movies for a few years, but that was because he had joined the United States military to fight in World War II. He was the first major American movie star to do so, and it was due to the deep military roots that he had gotten from his family. His father had served during the Spanish-American War as well as World War I, and both of his grandfathers had fought in the Civil War.
Stewart was, at first, rejected from service in November of 1940 due to his low weight, but he was able to bulk up (or the army loosened its regulations) in February of 1941. This was still almost a year before America would enter the war fully following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Taking to the Skies
Stewart, still a fan of aviation, joined the Air Corps, applying for an Air Corps commission. Despite his life taking him away from the wild blue yonder as a career, Stewart still loved to fly. His love had started in the early twenties when a barnstormer in a Curtiss pusher arrived in town one day, offering flights to people in the area. Stewart had begged his father and saved money, finally getting the old man’s approval.
The elder Stewart had been so nervous about his son going up that he had sent the town doctor along to watch the flight. That first flight, when Stewart was just a child, lasted only a few minutes, but it remained one of Stewart’s most fond memories.
Making His Very Own
Stewart knew he was destined to fly. Incredibly, he convinced his worry-wart of a father to help him build his own glider, based on the Curtiss pusher that he had ridden. This worked out about as well as a wooden glider made by a teenager could, with a pile of destroyed wood and zero major injuries. The glider was designed to be launched from the sloping roof of the Stewart house, but the test flight was a resounding failure.
He would later meet fellow flight enthusiast Henry Fonda, and the two men would spend time building model airplanes and flying kits. Wholesome. Once Fonda strung up a line of kites, stretching so far that the top kite had disappeared. He needed help hauling them in. Their correspondence after Fonda left for Hollywood talked about almost nothing but their model planes.
Learning to Fly
By the time Stewart had found some success in Hollywood, he was able to pivot back to learning about his favorite thing: flying. Learning to fly in a real airplane had always been a dream of his – having grown up during the infancy of transportation made it easy. Flying had the whole world’s attention. In 1935, Stewart signed up for lessons at the Minesfield Airport, which is the current location of the sprawling and gigantic Los Angeles International Airport.
The training plane he flew was a two-seat open cockpit biplane using a five-cylinder Kinney engine, the same kind of thing used to train the USAAF, eventually. At the time, Mansfield was a tiny landing strip surrounded by celery fields tended by Japanese immigrants and overrun by jackrabbits.
Flying on His Own
Stewart earned his private pilot’s license in 1935, and not long after that, he bought his first airplane – a Stinson 105. He called it a slow, gentle, and fun-to-fly airplane, and he would take it to visit his family on the East Coast. His continued education allowed him to become a commercial pilot – or at least earn a commercial pilot’s license – in 1938 or ‘39.
Due to his experience in flying and his college degree, he was hoping to step into a role as a pilot or similar role during missions. However, the army brass was concerned about Stewart’s potential as a publicity figure – they wanted to keep him out of danger not only because he could attract more people to the fight but also because of the backlash that would occur if he was shot down.
Thanks to his experience in the air, Stewart was able to become a commissioned officer in the Army Air Forces, joining as a second lieutenant on January 1st, 1942 – at that point, the States had officially joined the war against the Axis. However, Stewart was still denied the chance to fly missions. He didn’t make any commercial films, but he was still under contract to MGM and had a busy schedule making publicity appearances.
He was on network radio, and he appeared in a short film from the First Motion Picture Unit, a division of the USAAF. The film “Winning Your Wings” was made to recruit airmen, a goal at which it succeeded mightily: it’s thought 150,000 recruits joined because of it. It was also nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar.
He Yearned to Fly
Stewart wasn’t happy that his celebrity status kept him out of the air. He spent more than a year training pilots at the Kirtland Army Airfield in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and then he begged his commander to be put into a more front-line position. His commander relented, sending Stewart to England as part of the 445th Bombardment Group, flying B-24 Liberators.
These were big vessels that could practically drown the enemy in bombs, and keeping them up and getting them back home was a big job. Following a successful run to bomb Ludwigshafen, Germany, on January 7th, 1944, Stewart was promoted to major. His success continued, and he was awarded a number of hardware for his chest, including a Distinguished Flying Cross, the French Croix de Guerre with palm, and the Air Medal with Three oak leaf clusters.
Rising in the Ranks
On March 29 th, 1945, Stewart was promoted to full colonel, making him one of the few Americans to ever rise from private to colonel in only four years. We suspect that his celebrity status was at least a little bit of a help when it came to that. Being at such high standing wasn’t all fun and games – in June of 1945, Stewart was the presiding officer in the court martial hearing of a pilot and navigator who had accidentally bombed Zürich, Switzerland.
Stewart returned to the United States in the fall of 1945, after the war ended. He continued in a role as a member of the Army Air Forces reserve afterward. He was even one of the twelve founders of the Air Force Association in October of 1945.
Moving to the Reserves
When the army split from the Air Forces in 1947, Stewart remained on as a member of the Air Force Reserve Command. During active-duty periods, he would serve with the Strategic Air Command. In the meantime, he also completed training as a pilot in both B-47 and B-52 bombers. Yes, that’s right, the Stratofortress was once flown by Jimmy Stewart. In 1946, Stewart started getting back into commercial films now that he had helped win the war.
Apparently, he actually considered returning home to help run the family store, leaving his Hollywood lifestyle behind. Hollywood and military duty don’t always mix. It was his old friend Frank Capra that convinced him to stick with the movies, and it was a film we’re all familiar with that was the most important part.
The Thin Man
Stewart had also been of slight build. In fact, it was so skinny that it could have been dangerous. When he was in high school, he was on the football team, but he never rose higher than a third-stringer – his coach was afraid one good hit would break Stewart in half. Being skinny is usually a good thing, but even the army wanted people to be in a healthy range. When Stewart first tried to enlist, he was rejected for being five pounds overweight.
While gaining five pounds doesn’t seem like it would be too tough, Packing the pounds away just wasn’t Stewart’s style. He’d always been a light eater. It was even harder back then, too – no Oreos, no Dairy Queen, no Pizza Hut, and no weight-gain shakes. It took him a little while to meet the requirements, but he managed.
Thinner After the War
Stewart never talked much about his experiences in war. It’s not uncommon, especially for people who went through something like World War II. However, the effects on him seemed to have been dramatic and not just emotional. While Stewart had always been tall and lanky, following the war, his caloric intake seemed to drop even further than it had been before. According to reports, some days, he would barely eat anything at all.
One of his biographers said that he would go long periods (these lengths are not defined) eating only peanut butter and ice cream. Sounds like a tasty treat, but not the kind of thing you should build a diet around. The fact that “After the Thin Man” was one of his bigger roles is not lost on many.
A Movie to Define a Legacy
If you even slightly like older movies, you’ve certainly heard of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The movie is a Christmas classic, and to hear someone speak ill of it now, you’d probably assume that person had recently taken a blow to the head. “It’s a Wonderful Life” was the first postwar film for both Stewart and Capra, and both men are remembered mainly because of it nowadays. It wasn’t always that way, however.
While the film garnered five nominations for Academy Awards, including a Best Actor for Stewart, it received only mixed reviews from critics. They found it too sentimental, and despite the accolades he did receive, many still think that Stewart’s performance was passed over. The film was, at the time, a moderate success at the box office.
Is Life Truly Wonderful?
Stewart plays George Bailey, a good man who is forced to put his own life on hold as the Great Depression, family life, and the pressures of his career mount. From the avaricious Mr. Potter to the absent-minded Billy, that loses $8000 – now worth a whopping $134,000 – to the same Mr. Potter.
Despondent and drunk, George Bailey wanders to a bridge and prays, moments away from casting himself into the icy water below – only to be stopped by angel second-class Clarence Odbody. Following that, Clarence shows George what the world would be like if he had never existed. Clarence proved that his death would just mean more tragedy for his loved ones, convincing George to stay alive. All is made well, and tears are shed.
How a Movie Becomes a Classic
As we said before, this film was a modest box-office success and got middling reviews – how come it is so fondly remembered now? Well, the fact of the matter is the movie was always good, people didn’t go to see it much. After a long, destructive war, going to see a sentimental movie wasn’t on a lot of people’s Christmas lists. The sentimentality seemed like an illusion already shattered by the horrors of World War II.
It faded from the public eye. Then, in 1974, a clerical error prevented the copyright from being renewed. Because of this lapse, television stations looking for a cheap Christmas movie snapped it up. After being added to the rotation of holiday films, people started to appreciate it more and more.
At the Top of the List
“It’s a Wonderful Life” took its time getting the attention it deserved, and nowadays, it’s seen as one of the finest films ever made. It was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1990. Even Channel 4 in the United Kingdom called it one of the best films ever made – seventh. Directors from Steven Spielberg to Akira Kurosawa and David Lynch love it. Even Orson Welles, who played Potter in a made-for-TV remake, said that there was no way to hate the movie.
The film had a tough time at the Oscars, losing most of the nominated categories to “The Best Days of Our Lives,” a film about servicemen attempting to return to life after World War II. “It’s a Wonderful Life” won one of them, however: a technical achievement award for the development of a new method of simulating falling snow.
One of the Best
The film is regularly listed as one of the best movies ever made. George Bailey is up there on the list of best heroes, and Mr. Potter is often found to be one of the best (or worst?) villains. The list of AFI top movies initially placed “It’s a Wonderful Life” at number eight, behind such unstoppable films as “Gone with the Wind,” “The Godfather,” and, of course, “Citizen Kane.”
It dropped to number 20 in the 2007 re-ranking, but that’s still the twentieth-best movie in all of American filmmaking. Also on the list is another Capra/Stewart flick, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Stewart would later go on to say that this film was his favorite out of all the films that he appeared in.
Despite the amazing accolades that “It’s a Wonderful Life” would eventually accrue, the movie still wasn’t much of a success at the time. Capra’s production company fell into bankruptcy, and Stewart continued to doubt his acting abilities. The next wave of leading men, including Marlon Brando and James Dean, were starting to appear. They were destined to change Hollywood away from what Stewart had gotten used to.
He stuck with it, however, stepping into radio dramas and replacing original star Frank Fay on Broadway for the play “Harvey” during Fay’s vacation. Stewart excelled in the unconventional role of a wealthy eccentric whose friend is a man-sized rabbit and whose family is trying to get him committed. When Fay returned, it was decided that Stewart would again take his place the next summer during another break.
One Film a Year
Thanks to this other work, Stewart only released a single film in 1947, “Magic Town,” directed by William A. Wellman and with Jane Wyman alongside Stewart. It was a comedy film about, of all things, public opinion polling, inspired by the Middletown studies. Sadly, this single film for 1947 was received poorly both by the general public and by the critical audience.
Just like Stewart’s previous film, it was a flop upon release, but unlike “It’s a Wonderful Life,” there was no eventual public swing of affection for “Magic Town.” Sometimes, a bad movie is just that. It turns out that there’s no miracle formula for a movie, even if it has Jimmy Stewart in it.
Picking Up the Pace
Stewart decided to up his output in 1948, releasing four new films before the year was over. The first was the critically-acclaimed film noir “Call Northside 777,” in which Stewart played a Chicago reporter who proved a man jailed of murder eleven years ago was innocent. After that came the musical comedy “On Our Merry Way,” which reunited Stewart and Henry Fonda as jazz musicians, though the movie was a critical and commercial failure.
“You Gotta Stay Happy” was the most successful of his post-war films to that point, pairing him with Joan Fontaine in a comedy. His final film of the year was “Rope,” which was his first collaboration with legendary director Alfred Hitchcock. However, he was miscast for the role, and the method of filming took great stress, resulting in little sleep and a lot of drinking.
The Best Thing Since the War
To finish out the decade, Stewart found success playing baseball champion Monty Stratton. He was helped in this movie, called “The Stratton Story,” by June Allyson, who played Ethel, Stratton’s wife. Stratton was a baseball pitcher for the Chicago White Sox from 1934 to 1938, and the movie was biographical in nature. Stratton himself had good things to say about the movie in general and Stewart’s portrayal of him in particular.
The movie was a success at the box office, and it was nominated for – and won – the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture Story. Not Best Motion Picture, mind you, Best Motion Picture Story. His other 1949 film, “Malaya,” was one of the already numerous World War II movies, and it was a commercial failure with a moderate amount of critical fans.
The Great American Bachelor
Stewart did not marry until he was in his forties. For the time being, this was almost unbelievable. Not only for someone not to marry but for a Hollywood superstar to spend so much time around the lovely ladies of the Golden Age of Hollywood and not at least get close. For a long time, Stewart had romantic designs on his friend and frequent co-star Margaret Sullavan.
He took her for a date before either of them was famous, but Sullivan wasn’t interested in him romantically, seeing him as a close friend and a co-worker. She felt protective and maternal toward him. Director H. C. Potter thought that a relationship might have worked had Stewart been more up-front with his feelings, but it wasn’t to be. Not with Sullavan, anyway.
Just like in our current era, the relationship between actors and actresses was a topic of big talk back when Jimmy Stewart was making films. Stewart did have several romantic relationships prior to marriage, but none of them went the distance. Obviously. Because then they wouldn’t have been prior to marriage. Stewart and Ginger Rogers were romantically linked for a little while after they were introduced by mutual friend Henry Fonda. Stewart dated Norma Shearer for six weeks while filming “The Shopworn Angel” in 1938, and after that, it was Loretta Young.
That relationship ended because Young wanted to settle down – Stewart didn’t. Stewart wasn’t squeaky clean, either: he had an affair with “Destry Rides Again” co-star Marlene Dietrich, who was married at the time. Stewart ended the relationship after filming finished, and Dietrich was hurt.
Getting a Little Closer
During the late 1930s and early 1940s, Stewart dated Olivia de Havilland. He even proposed marriage to her, but she rejected the proposal as she wasn’t ready to settle down. Yeah, that’s what it feels like, Stewart. Their relationship continued until just before Stewart began his military service – de Havilland broke up with him because she had fallen in love with director John Huston.
While serving in the military, Stewart met sing Dinah Shore at a club for servicemen, and the two nearly got married in Las Vegas in 1943, but Stewart got cold feet. Shortly after the war, Stewart was in a relationship with Myrna Dell while he filmed “The Stratton Story.” The tabloids said that they were planning to marry, but Dell popped that rumor.
Stewart’s first interaction with his eventual wife was at Keena Wynn’s Christmas party in 1947. The woman, Gloria Hatrick McLean, an actress and model, was married at the time to Edward Beale McLean Jr., though the two would get divorced in 1948. Stewart had crashed the party and gotten drunk, which left a poor impression on Gloria. A year later, Gary Cooper and his wife Veronica invited Stewart and Gloria to a dinner party, giving them a chance to clear the air and start dating.
This time was the charm for both of them, as they got married on August 9th , 1949, and they remained married until Gloria’s death in 1994 from lung cancer. Gloria had two children from her previous marriage, whom Stewart adopted upon getting married.
A New Way of Doing Business
The late forties might not have been the best time for Stewart’s career, but in the fifties – now happily married – he had a bit of a career resurgence. The renewal came thanks to the burgeoning Western genre as well as his collaboration with director Anthony Mann. The first product of this collaboration was the 1950 film “Winchester ‘73.” Stewart agreed to do the film in exchange for being cast in the screen adaptation of “Harvey.
” “Winchester ‘73” was also a turning point in earnings and business for Stewart and Hollywood in general – Stewart’s agent, Lew Wasserman, struck a new kind of deal with Universal – Stewart got no fee from the movie but received a percentage of the profits. He earned $600,000, far more than his normal fee.
Wagging the Director
Stewart was also granted casting and hiring clout, and he chose Anthony Mann to direct. Stewart took the opportunity to reinvent himself on the screen. Instead of boyish charm and an easygoing manner, Stewart was a tough, vengeful gunman who chased the titular weapon through numerous owners, eventually facing off against his own brother in a climactic showdown.
The movie was a box-office success upon its release, and Stewart earned rave reviews. A second Western from 1950, “Broken Arrow,” helped grow the new version of himself. Both are classics of the Western genre, and suddenly, Stewart wasn’t just a romantic lead or a dewy-eyed star. Nobody had doubted his ability before, but he was suddenly displaying a range that was getting people to stand up and take notice.
Back with the Bunny
The final film released with Stewart in 1950 was the aforementioned film adaptation of the play “Harvey.” Stewart had made waves as the lead character during the stage run of the play, but here he was hit with comparisons to original lead actor Fay. Stewart and the film, as a whole, received mixed reviews. In addition, the film didn't do too super well at the box office. Yet the film still garnered a number of award nominations.
It’s the only film of Stewart’s for which he received both an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe nomination, though he failed to win either. Josephine Hull won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and the Golden Globe for Best Support Actress. Stewart wasn’t thrilled with his performance in the film. The film would eventually gain a cult following.
Odd Choices of Roles
Sure, he could do it all...but would Jimmy Stewart be okay with a smaller part? 1951 had just one Stewart film, “No Highway in the Sky,’ one of the first airplane disaster films ever made. The movie was a box office success in England but didn’t get much traction in the states. The next year, Stewart made an odd choice for his next role – he wanted to be a clown.
Not only that, but he would be a clown in a small supporting role in Cecil B. Demille’s “The Greatest Show on Earth.” The movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture, but critics were left confused that Stewart would take such a role. Stewart wanted to ape Lon Chaney, who could disguise himself and let the character emerge.
The Mann for the Job
Stewart and director Anthony Mann joined forces again toward the end of 1952 with the film “Bend of the River,” another western. It was a commercial and critical success, and it featured the up-and-coming young star Rock Hudson as a supporting character. This team of Stewart and Mann would result in more collaborations within the next two years. Two of them were more entries into the Western genre, “The Naked Spur” and “The Far Country.”
They were successful with audiences and helped Stewart to develop his on-screen persona even further. He was mature, he was edgy, and he was ambitious. He was the troubled cowboy seeking redemption, facing corruption and violence. These films are still popular for their gritty, realistic portrayals of the genre.
Not Just Westerns
Stewart had two other films in 1953 and 1954 with Mann. One of them was the adventure film “Thunder Bay,” which had Stewart as one of two engineers drilling for oil in the Louisiana Gulf as they dealt with hostilities from local shrimp fishermen. Reviews were good but not great. It did, however, open with a gross of 42,000, a record for a universal film at Loew’s State Theater.
The second of these two was “The Glenn Miller Story,” a critically acclaimed biopic in which Stewart played the eponymous band leader. He was again joined by June Allyson, his co-star from “The Stratton Story,” and the response was positive, netting three Academy Award nominations and winning the Oscar for Best Sound Recording. It also got Jimmy Stewart a BAFTA nomination.
Looking Through the Window
Stewart’s next film was another big one. Once again, he worked with auteur director Alfred Hitchcock to make the thriller “Rear Window,” which became a top-ten movie in 1954. His character is a photographer stuck in a wheelchair thanks to a broken leg, and he begins to project his fears onto the people he can see through his window. He believes he witnesses a murder happen, and...well, it’s a Hitchcock film.
We can’t give everything away. Grace Kelly appears as Stewart’s girlfriend. The film was made on a budget of only one million, but it earned far, far more – 37 million dollars. After inflation, that’s worth more than 420 million. It was ranked as the 42nd best movie on AFI’s 100 Years...100 Movies list, dropping all the way down to 48 in the ten-year anniversary list.
Even after so much time in front of a camera, Stewart still had new depths to show, and it was Hitchcock who was able to draw them out. Due to the nature of “Rear Window,” many of the scenes simply had Stewart reacting to events using just facial expressions. It was another new kind of protagonist for Stewart, one who had to confront his fears and repressed desires.
While most of the movie’s accolades went to Hitchcock, Stewart’s performance was lauded. 1954 ended up being yet another landmark year for the veteran actor – he had achieved wide-ranging audience success, and he even topped “Look” magazine’s list of most popular movie stars, pushing his co-star and fellow Western actor John Wayne off his perch. Take that, pardner.
More Time With the Mann
1955 offered up two more collaborations with Anthony Mann. The first was a film many might call Cold War propaganda called “Strategic Air Command,” made to show that high military spending was a good thing during such turbulent times. Thanks to his experience in the military, and the Air Force in particular, Stewart had a central role in the film’s development.
The film got some criticism for a simple storyline, but it was still number six at the box office for the year. The next and final project between the star and director was “The Man from Laramie,” a Western shot in CinemaScope. It also got a nice response from critics.
Another Hitchcock Thriller
After those two films with Mann, Stewart, and Alfred Hitchcock once again reunited for yet another thriller – they knew they had a good formula on their hands. This time, it was “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” a remake of Hitchcock’s earlier film. Stewart was joined by actress Doris Day, and it featured a significantly different plot and script compared to the original. While most critics found the original superior, Hitchcock himself thought that the remake was the better film.
While he called the first the work of a talented amateur, he considered the second version the work of a professional. As always, Stewart’s acting was pointed at as a high point. And, just like Stewart’s other films of the decade, it was a commercial success.
A Personal Triumph
By now, you should be aware that Stewart loved flying. How many other kids tried to make their own glider back when such things were barely being used publicly? How many other Hollywood stars not only got a private license while they were making bank at the box office but then went on to get a commercial license?
Finally, how many of them signed up to fly in the military even before the United States was officially a part of World War II? How many of them continued to serve even after becoming one of the most famous men in the world? One: Jimmy Stewart. And it was all thanks to the next person Stewart would portray in the film “The Spirit of St. Louis”: Charles Lindbergh.
Playing His Hero
Yes, Lindbergh’s famous transatlantic flight was the reason that Stewart – as well as so many kids and adults alike – couldn’t get their minds off the skies. Stewart had taken his fascination further than most, but few can doubt the world-changing event of such a long flight. We have to imagine that when he was offered a chance to play Lindbergh, Stewart jumped at the chance, no matter how it would turn out.
The movie included reminiscences of Lindbergh’s early days in aviation, as well as the preparations for and attempt of his historic flight in the purpose-built high-wing monoplane. With a seven-million dollar budget, it was a big film with plenty of special effects to make the flight look like it was really happening.
A Disappointing Turnout
Despite all the money poured into it, and how excited Stewart likely was to play one of the most important men in his life, “The Spirit of St. Louis” ended up becoming a failure. It was mixed at the box office, and, a rarity, Stewart’s performance was one of the lower points. Critics said that his performance failed to convey the human side of such an important figure in aviation.
We all know the old yarn “never meet your heroes,” but maybe you shouldn’t play them in a movie, either. Despite a good initial turnout, it became clear that the movie was going to turn out to be a failure at the box office. Recent critics have come around to the film in the modern era, and it is, at least, a good preservation of an important historical event.
The End of a Partnership
Stewart’s final film in 1957 was a starring role in the Western “Night Passage,” and it was an important one for his career. It was supposed to be his ninth collaboration with Anthony Mann, but an argument between Mann and writer Borden Chase about the script (Mann thought it was weak) led to Mann leaving the project and being replaced by director James Neilson.
Mann and Stewart would never collaborate again – Mann thought that Stewart was only making the film so he could play his accordion, which he did several times during the movie. The movie was a box-office flop, and one of the actors, Audie Murphy, got so angry at the horse that he rode that he punched it in the face. The failure soured Stewart on the genre, and he would stay away for a while.
The next film for Stewart, his first of 1958, was also Stewart’s last collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock. He appeared in the film “Vertigo” about a former policeman who suffers from acrophobia – an extreme fear of heights. He becomes obsessed with a woman he’s tailing. The movie is considered one of Hitchcock’s best – not a small thing to achieve – and a “Sight & Sound” poll even ranked it as the greatest film ever made in 2012.
Surprisingly, it had mixed reviews upon its release, and it wasn’t a star at the box office. It did okay, but that’s the most it could claim. Still, most critics had good things to say about Stewart’s performance, saying that he was able to act tense in a casual way. Sounds like a lot of people these days.
Getting Too Old For This
One of the reasons Hitchcock gave for the film’s hard time at the box office was that Stewart was getting too old – not to play a leading man or act in a thriller, but to be a romantic lead. The female lead, Kim Novak, was a full 25 years Stewart’s junior in the movie. Stewart agreed – he felt so uncomfortable playing a romantic pairing with such a young woman that he decided to stop playing romantic leads altogether, putting an end to his time in romantic comedies and drama films – though he hadn’t been in many of those in the last 15 years.
He had begun wearing a silver hairpiece in some films, maybe to keep his hair looking like it belonged on his head. Because of this, Hitchcock cast Cary Grant in “North by Northwest,” who was older than Stewart by four years but looked younger.
The Man Couldn’t Slow Down
Movies came, and movies went. Not everything Stewart touched turned to gold, but compared to a lot of actors both then and now, he was as close to a sterling star as we can get. 1958 continued with “Bell, Book and Candle,” a fantasy romantic comedy. Kim Novak, the female lead, is secretly a witch. After that came “Anatomy of a Murder,” for which Stewart would be nominated for a BAFTA, though he once again wouldn’t win.
To close out 1959 and the decade was the film “The FBI Story,” a crime drama film that follows Stewart’s character for decades as he rises in the ranks of the FBI, from its beginnings to its status as a national power. Outside his films, Stewart would continue to truly rise in the ranks – all the way to Brigadier General.
The General of Hollywood
In 1957, Stewart was nominated not for a paltry movie award but for the rank of brigadier general in the Air Force. While he didn’t receive the rank at that time, the “Washington Daily News” noted that he trained with the Air Force Reserve every year. At that time, he’d had 18 hours as the first pilot of a B-52. He was able to reach the rank of brigadier general on July 23rd, 1959 – making him the highest-ranking actor in American military history.
It certainly isn’t easy to become a brigadier general, even if it is the lowest rank of general the American military uses. There is a cap of 170 Brig Gen in the Air Force on active duty, but we’re not sure if Stewart’s reserve status changes how many would be allowed.
Joining Another Great
The next big film in Stewart’s repertoire had him join forces with one of the other most famous actors of the time: John Wayne. It was the first of three films that these legends would make together, and all three of them would end up being classics of the Western genre. John Wayne starred as Tom Doniphon, the main character of the film, while Stewart plays a young lawyer that is beaten by Liberty Valance and discovered by Doniphon.
Lee Marvin played Liberty Valance in one of his many villainous roles, and Vera Miles played the female lead. The film was a huge money maker, becoming the 50th highest grossing film of 1962. Most reviews were flatly positive, though some found imperfections. In modern times, it’s regarded as one of the best of the genre.
Following a Classic with a Classic
After the film “Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation” (which was a success in its own right), Stewart and Wayne got right back to work with their second film and their second collaboration of 1962, “How the West Was Won.” It wasn’t just Stewart and Wayne who appeared in this sprawling ensemble cast, however. The movie also featured Gregory Peck, Eli Wallach, Debbie Reynolds, Carroll Baker, Lee J. Cobb, and even Jimmy’s old friend Henry Fonda.
The movie is widely considered to be one of Hollywood’s greatest epics. It not only earned widespread critical acclaim, but the star power and directing – courtesy of three men, including John Ford – it was also a box office smash. Against a budget of 14 million, it made about 50 million. Add a zero to the end of that, and you have what it would have made today.
After more than 30 years of ruling Hollywood, Stewart had become one of the greatest men to even stand in front of a camera. From immediate classics like “Rear Window” to slow-burn cult favorites like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” from comedies to romantic films to Westerns and thrillers, Stewart could pretty much do all of it. For that reason, he was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1965, which is awarded for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.
DeMille was the first to receive the award, and other recipients included Walt Disney, Bing Crosby, and Bob Hope. The very next year, John Wayne would receive the award. It was the first “honorary” award of his career, something given to him just because of who he was, not necessarily because of a specific film or piece of work.
A Couple of Failures, a Couple of Successes
Just because Stewart was one of the greats, that doesn’t mean he didn’t still have a bomb here or there. Right after receiving the Cecil B. DeMille Award, his very next film was called “Dear Brigitte,” which not only had him but French stunner Brigitte Bardot, who played herself. It was a family comedy, but it was also a bomb at the box office.
His next film, “Shenandoah,” was a civil war film, one of the few Stewart would do that centered around war. After that, he took to the skies again in “The Flight of the Phoenix,” another aviation-based film. It had some critical success, but it was a general box-office failure.
More Westerns to Finish Out the Decade
He showed up in “The Rare Breed” in 1966 alongside actress Maureen O’Hara and in “Firecreek” in 1968 with Henry Fonda. Then it was “Bandolero!,” also in 1968, and “The Cheyenne Social Club” in 1970 with Henry Fonda again. Of the four, “Bandolero!” was the most successful – it was helped along by the additions of stars Dean Martin and Raquel Welch.
In 1968, Stewart would receive his second honorary award, the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award for “outstanding achievement in fostering the finest ideals of the acting profession.” Stewart was only the sixth to receive it, and he was able to climb on stage to receive it from his good friend Fonda, who was presenting the award. Surprisingly, Fonda would never receive the award, despite all his success.
The End of His Duty
When Jimmy Stewart reached the age of 60 in 1968, he had hit the mandatory retirement from the Air Force. Knowing that he had come to the end of his time as someone who could be of use to the Air Force, Stewart accepted the retirement. He had flown during the Vietnam War as a non-duty observer aboard a B-52 bomber on an Operation Arc Light bombing mission in February 1966, but other than that, he had no hand in the war itself.
Upon his retirement, he received the United States Air Force Distinguished Service Medal. Despite being in the military for so long, Stewart rarely brought up his military service. He was interviewed about a disastrous 1943 bombing mission in Germany in the British Documentary series “The World at War.”
Few Movies About War
Despite Stewart’s time spent in the military and his support of it, he made very few commercial movies about the military. In general (heh), Stewart wasn’t a big fan of war movies because he rarely found them accurate. He starred in just two: “The Mountain Road” in 1960, which was anti-war though still respectful of the military, and “Shenandoah.” There was also “Malaya” in 1949, which had Stewart as a non-combatant during the war – a reporter.
It’s also more of a war thriller. Aside from these few examples – which certainly weren’t your typical war films – he was in the famous short “Winning Your Wings,” but that was about it for Stewart when it came to war movies. Having actually been in combat, we imagine Stewart would rather things be realistic.
Moving to a New Format
He had done everything the big screen demanded of him, which meant it was time for Jimmy Stewart to do what every aging Hollywood star does eventually – settle into a nice, comfortable television show of his very own. In 1971, Stewart starred in the NBC sitcom “The Jimmy Stewart Show.” Due to bad reviews and a lack of audience, the show was canceled after one week, a move that Stewart was perfectly pleased with.
His next attempt at television came in 1973, in the CBS mystery series “Hawkins.” He played a small-town lawyer who investigated mysterious cases. While it was acclaimed – Stewart won a Golden Globe for it – it was also canceled after one season. He also started making regular appearances on Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show” to read his poems.
I Don’t Need a Hearing Aid
Nearing 70, Stewart was showing his age. His next film, in 1976, was “The Shootist,” a supporting part in what would become John Wayne’s final film appearance before his death. It concerns Wayne’s character, a gunfighter and sheriff struggling with cancer. Similarly, Stewart’s own health was starting to trend downward. After so much time on noisy sets and flying planes, Stewart had a hearing problem, but he refused to wear a hearing aid.
Because of this, he had a hard time hearing his cues and would repeatedly flub his lines. His next films, “Airport ‘77,” “The Big Sleep,” and “The Magic of Lassie,” mostly floundered at the box office and in the reviews, but at least “Airport ‘77” was a box-office hit.
The Final Film
In 1980, even Stewart could read the writing on the wall. His last live-action feature film was “The Green Horizon” in 1980, which he took because it promoted wildlife conservation and allowed him to visit Kenya with his family. The film was, however, a flop. At that point, Stewart considered himself semi-retired. He had earned it, certainly, but it was hard to drag him away from the camera.
His two movies in the eighties after it was television movies: “Mr. Krueger’s Christmas” (which allowed him to conduct the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a lifelong dream of his) and “Right of Way,” a drama for HBO that co-starred Bette Davis. He was definitely taking it a little easier, but there was still more to come for ol’ Jimmy.
Still Bringing in the Paychecks
He was all out of feature film appearances, but you could still see Stewart if you knew where to look. He made an appearance in the historical miniseries “North and South” in 1986 and also did voice-over work for commercials for Campbell’s Soups in both the 1980s and the 1990s. After everything else was said and done, Stewart had one single movie performance left in him: Sheriff Wylie Burp in the animated film “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.”
The movie came out in 1991, and then that was it for the man who had, for so long, been the greatest Hollywood had ever produced. From his first few stumbling film roles to lifetime achievement awards, Stewart had seen it all, and he was ready to kick up his feet.
Loving the Home Life
After he and Gloria had gotten married, they bought a home in Beverly Hills in 1951 – they stayed there for the rest of their lives. Stewart adopted Gloria’s two children from her previous marriage, Ronald and Michael, and the pair also had daughters, twins Judy and Kelly, on May 7th, 1951. At the age of 24, Ronald was killed in action in the Vietnam War, serving as a lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1969.
Jimmy and Gloria remained married until Gloria’s death in 1994 from lung cancer at the age of 75. Like her husband, she enjoyed skeet shooting, fishing, animals, and travel. She was a supporter of conserving big-game animals rather than hunting them, and she was able to bring Jimmy around to the same viewpoint after enough time.
Not an Open Book
Jimmy Stewart always kept details about his personal life close to the vest. He was guarded, and he tended to keep himself emotionally unavailable during interviews, as opposed to the emotion he showed in films. He kept his thoughts and feelings to himself. People even went so far as to describe him as a loner who didn’t have close relationships with a lot of people.
Director John Ford once said that you don’t get to know Jimmy Stewart; Jimmy Stewart gets to know you. If Twitter or any other social media had been around during his day, we doubt that he would have been very interested. Just makes you like him a little more, you know? You don’t have to know everything about your favorite actor.
There Was a Lot to Him
Stewart was one of the greatest actors ever. He made it to the rank of Brigadier General in the Air Force. What else could he have possibly done? He was a big investor in things such as real estate, oil wells, and the charter plane company Southwest Airways. He was on corporate boards. He was active in philanthropy – he was the vice-chairman of entertainment for the American Red Cross’s fund-raising campaign for wounded soldiers in Vietnam, and he regularly donated to improvements and upgrades in his home of Indiana, Pennsylvania.
He started a signature charity event, “The Jimmy Stewart Relay Marathon Race,” which has been held annually since 1982, raising millions of dollars for the Child and Family Development Center at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
Losing a Legend
After Gloria’s death in 1994, Stewart fell into depression. He spent even more time away from the public eye. Now in his mid-eighties, many of Stewart’s friends had already passed. He spent much of his time in his bedroom, exiting only to take meals and visit his children. He ignored the media, fans, and friends, and his remaining friends said that he finally had a chance to rest and be alone.
In December of 1995, Stewart was hospitalized after a fall. A year later, he opted not to have the battery in his peacemaker changed, leading to an irregular heartbeat a few months later. A thrombosis formed in his right leg, leading to a pulmonary embolism and eventually a heart attack. James Stewart died on July second, 1997.
Stewart’s funeral included more than 3000 mourners, including co-stars such as June Allyson, Carol Burnett, Bob Hope, and plenty of other famous names. The service included full military honors and three volleys of musketry. He left behind three children and almost 100 acting projects, not including documentaries or projects where he appeared as himself.
He was in charge of delivering emotion in some of the biggest movies ever, and he started as a little kid who just wanted to fly. He spent plenty of time among the clouds, both in a plane and at the heights that Hollywood had to offer. He was the kind of guy that anybody wanted to meet, but few had the opportunity. They had to make do with watching his heart-bursting roles in movies that are still being praised to this day.