Some movies will always resonate with the American audience irrespective of new blockbuster hits and advances in cinematography. One of such movies is the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life, a movie for which James Stewart is most remembered. James also featured the military aviation film Strategic Air Command which was released by Paramount pictures in 1955.
Asides from acting, James Stewart had a stellar career as a military man during the Vietnam War and World War II. He rose to the rank of Brigadier General, and to date holds the record of the highest-ranking actor in the Miltary.
James Stewart Biography
Born on the 20th of May 20, 1908, in Indiana, Pennsylvania, James Stewart’s father Alexander Maitland Stewart was an American with Scottish ancestry whilst James’ mom was Elizabeth Ruth, a talented pianist, and homemaker.
The Stewart family was a Presbyterian home that had three children of which James was the eldest of the siblings. He had two younger sisters – Mary Kelly Stewart and Virginia Wilson Stewart. James graduated from the Mercersburg Academy prep school in 1928. While in school he was involved in a host of extracurricular activities. He was a part of the choir club, the John Marshall Literary Society, the football team, and the school track team where he was a high jumper under coach Jimmy Curran.
As a child, James had dreams of becoming a pilot so when he enrolled at Princeton University to study Architecture, it came as no surprise when the focus of his final thesis was on Airport designs. At Princeton, he also discovered he had the potential in him to make it as an actor and soon started picking up minor roles in stage performances.
His career as an actor was punctuated by his engagements in the military. He enlisted in the armed forces in 1941 as an Air Corps where he racked up over 1,800 hours of flight time as a bomber pilot.
Over the course of a career spanning six decades, James Stewart got five academy award nominations, received an Academy Lifetime Achievement award in 1985, and was named the third-greatest male screen legend of the Golden Age of Hollywood by the American Film Institute.
Initially, James’ ambitions were not tilted towards acting, but as a student at Princeton, he got increasingly involved with the school’s drama and literary club. His first appearance was in a play on Broadway titled Carry Nation after which he made a brief appearance in Goodbye Again.
His career took off with a motion-picture contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1934. His first film was The Murder Man which was shot in 1935. His next major work was 1938’s You Can’t Take It with You and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington which was shot the following year. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington got him his maiden Oscar nomination. He finally won an Oscar the next year (1940) for the classic, The Philadelphia Story.
Between 1940 and 1945 he had a career hiatus as a result of his involvement in the war. He made a return to acting in 1946 in It’s a Wonderful Life for which he received another Oscar nomination.
Throughout his career, James Stewart forged an onscreen identity for his calm demeanor down-to-earth persona, and effortless portrayal of the American middle-class man. For the next decades of his life, he churned out masterpieces including The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), and Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), and Winchester ’73. His last role was o the set of the animated comedy An American Tail: Fievel Goes West which was shot in 1991.
James Stewart passed away on the 2nd of July,1997 at his home in Beverly Hills, California at the age of 89 after a series of health challenges.
Net Worth – What Was James Stewart Worth?
James Stewart by all accounts had a glittering career spanning over 60 years. In his lifetime, he was a part of numerous commercially viable films, notable amongst which was his role in the 1946 sentimental, holiday favorite, It’s a Wonderful Life. Other commercially successful projects include the 1965 Civil war film Shenandoah. He also made a sizeable income from endorsements and commercials. By the time he was laid to rest Stewart was worth an estimated $30 million.
During James’ early days in Hollywood, he gained a reputation as a casanova alongside his friend Henry Fonda. Upon his return from World War II, at the age of 41, he married former model Gloria Hatrick McLean on August 9, 1949. Gloria had two sons from a previous marriage – Michael and Ronald. Stewart adopted both and Gloria had twin daughters, named Judy and Kelly. The twins were born on the 7th of May, 1951. Kelly is an evolutionary anthropologist. James’ stepson, Ronald lost his life in battle while serving the United States Marine Corps in 1969.
James and Gloria were married until February 16, 1994, when Gloria lost her battle against lung cancer at the age of 75.
Height – How Tall Was James Stewart?
James Stewart was a man blessed with an impressive physique, a feature that surely endeared him to the female folk. He stood at 1.9 meters (6 feet 3 inches). He weighed 140 pounds.