Stewart, James

views updated May 14 2018


Nationality: American. Born: James Maitland Stewart in Indiana, Pennsylvania, 20 May 1908. Education: Attended Model School; Mercersburg Academy; Princeton University, New Jersey, B.S. in architecture 1932. Military Service: U.S. Air Force, 1942–45: colonel (remained in the reserves: brigadier general, 1959). Family: Married Gloria Hatrick McLean, 1949 (died 1994), twins: Kelly and Judy. Career: 1932—joined Joshua Logan's University Players in West Falmouth, Massachusetts: Broadway debut in the company's production of Carrie Nation; 1935—in short Important News, then in feature Murder Man; contract with MGM; 1947—on Broadway in Harvey (reprised in film version, 1951, and on stage later in his career); 1971–72—actor in TV series The Jimmy Stewart Show, and in series Hawkins, 1973–74; 1986—in TV mini-series North and South II; The James Stewart Museum was opened in Indiana, Pennsylvania, in 1995. Awards: Best Actor, New York Film Critics, for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, 1939; Best Actor Academy Award, for The Philadelphia Story, 1940; Best Actor, New York Film Critics, and Best Actor, Venice Festival, for Anatomy of a Murder, 1959; Best Actor, Berlin Festival, for Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, 1962; Life Achievement Award, American Film Institute, 1980; Special Academy Award, for "his 50 years of meaningful performances, for his high ideals, both on and off the screen, with the respect and affection of his colleagues," 1984. Died: 2 July 1997, in Beverly Hills, California, of pulmonic blood clot)

Films as Actor:


This Side of Heaven (William K. Howard) (as Hal); Art Trouble (short)


Important News (Lawrence—short); Murder Man (Whelan) (as Shorty)


Rose Marie (Van Dyke) (as John Flower); Next Time We Love (Edward H. Griffith) (as Christopher); Wife versus Secretary (Brown) (as Dave); Small Town Girl (Wellman) (as Elmer); Speed (Marin) (as Terry Martin); The Gorgeous Hussy (Brown) (as "Rowdy" Roderick Dow); Born to Dance (Del Ruth) (as Ted Barker); After the Thin Man (Van Dyke) (as David Graham)


Seventh Heaven (Henry King) (as Chico); The Last Gangster (Wellman) (as Paul North Sr.); Navy Blue and Gold (Wood) (as "Truck" Cross)


Of Human Hearts (Brown) (as Jason Wilkins); Vivacious Lady (Stevens) (as Peter Morgan); The Shopworn Angel (Potter) (as Bill Pettigrew); You Can't Take It with You (Capra) (as Tony Kirby)


Made for Each Other (Cromwell) (as Johnny Mason); Ice Follies of 1939 (Schunzel) (as Larry Hall); It's a Wonderful World (Van Dyke) (as Guy Johnson); Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Capra) (title role); Destry Rides Again (George Marshall) (as Tom Destry)


The Shop around the Corner (Lubitsch) (as Alfred Kralik); The Mortal Storm (Borzage) (as Martin Brietner); No Timefor Comedy (Keighley) (as Gaylord Easterbrook); The Philadelphia Story (Cukor) (as Mike Connor)


Come Live with Me (Brown) (as Bill Smith); Pot o' Gold (George Marshall) (as Jimmy Kaskell); Ziegfeld Girl (Leonard) (as Gilbert Young)


Fellow Americans (short); Winning Your Wings (short)


It's a Wonderful Life (Capra) (as George Bailey)


Magic Town (Wellman) (as Lawrence "Rip" Smith)


Call Northside 777 (Hathaway) (as McNeal); 10,000 Kids and a Cop (doc); On Our Merry Way (A Miracle Can Happen) (King Vidor and Fenton) (as Slim); Rope (Hitchcock) (as Rupert Cadell); You Gotta Stay Happy (Potter) (as Marvin Payne)


The Stratton Story (Wood) (as Monty Stratton); Malaya (Thorpe) (as John Royer)


Winchester '73 (Anthony Mann) (as Lin McAdam); Broken Arrow (Daves) (as Tom Jeffords); Jackpot (How Much Do You Owe?) (Walter Lang) (as Bill Lawrence)


Harvey (Koster) (as Elwood Dowd); No Highway in the Sky (No Highway) (Koster) (as Theodore Honey)


The Greatest Show on Earth (Cecil B. DeMille) (as Buttons); Bend of the River (Anthony Mann) (as Glyn McLyntock); Carbine Williams (Thorpe) (as Marsh Williams)


The Naked Spur (Anthony Mann) (as Howard Kemp); Thunder Bay (Anthony Mann) (as Steve Martin)


The Glenn Miller Story (Anthony Mann) (title role); Rear Window (Hitchcock) (as L. B. Jeffries)


The Far Country (Anthony Mann) (as Jeff Webster); Strategic Air Command (Anthony Mann) (as Lt. Colonel Robert "Dutch" Holland); The Man from Laramie (Anthony Mann) (as Will Lockhart)


The Man Who Knew Too Much (Hitchcock) (as Ben McKenna)


The Spirit of St. Louis (Wilder) (as Charles Lindbergh); Night Passage (Neilson) (as Grant McLaine)


Vertigo (Hitchcock) (as John "Scottie" Ferguson); Bell, Book and Candle (Quine) (as Shepherd Henderson)


Anatomy of a Murder (Preminger) (as Paul Biegler); The FBI Story (LeRoy) (as Chip Hardesty)


The Mountain Road (Daniel Mann) (as Major Baldwin)


Two Rode Together (Ford) (as Guthrie McCabe); X-15 (Richard Donner) (as narrator)


The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Ford) (as Ranson Stoddard); Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (Koster) (title role); Flashing Spikes (Ford—for TV) (as Slim Conway)


"The Rivers" ep. of How the West Was Won (Hathaway) (as Linus Rawlings); Take Her, She's Mine (Koster) (as Frank Michaelson)


Cheyenne Autumn (Ford) (as Wyatt Earp)


Dear Brigitte (Koster) (as Professor Robert Leaf); Shenandoah (McLaglen) (as Charlie); The Flight of the Phoenix (Aldrich) (as Frank Towns)


The Rare Breed (McLaglen) (as Sam Burnett)


Firecreek (McEveety) (as Johnny Cobb); Bandolero! (McLaglen) (as Mace Bishop)


The Cheyenne Social Club (Kelly) (as John O'Hanlan)


Fools' Parade (McLaglen) (as Mattie Appleyard); Directed by John Ford (Bogdanovich—doc) (as himself); The American West of John Ford (doc—for TV)


Harvey (Cook—for TV) (as Elwood P. Dowd)


Hawkins on Murder (Taylor—for TV) (as Billy Jim Hawkins)


That's Entertainment! (Haley—compilation) (as narrator)


The Shootist (Siegel) (as Dr. Hostetler)


Airport '77 (Jameson) (as Philip Stevens)


The Magic of Lassie (Chaffey) (as Clovis Mitchell); The Big Sleep (Winner) (as General Sternwood)


Mr. Krueger's Christmas (Merrill)


Afurika Monogatari (A Tale of Africa) (Hani) (as old man)


Right of Way (Schaefer—for TV)


An American Tail 2: Fievel Goes West (Nibbelink and Wells—animation) (as voice of Wylie Burp)


A Century of Cinema (Thomas) (as himself)


Marlene Dietrich: Shadow and Light (Hurt—for TV) (as himself)


By STEWART: book—

Jimmy Stewart and His Poems, New York, 1989.

By STEWART: articles—

"That's Enough for Me," interview in Films and Filming (London), April 1966.

Interview with N. P. Hurlez, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), April 1984.

Interview with R. Comiskey, in Cinema Papers (Melbourne), January 1986.

Interview with David Denicolo, in Interview (New York), April 1990.

Interview with R. Neilsen, in Classic Images (Muscatine), August 1992.

On STEWART: books—

Jones, Ken D., The Films of James Stewart, New York, 1970.

Thompson, Howard, James Stewart, New York, 1974.

Parish, James, and Don Stanke, The All-American, New Rochelle, New York, 1977.

Eyles, Allen, James Stewart, New York, 1984.

Hunter, Allan, James Stewart, New York, 1985.

Robbins, Jhan, Everybody's Man: A Biography of Jimmy Stewart, New York, 1985.

Le Hanaff, Ronan, James Stewart, Paris, 1986.

Thomas, Tony, A Wonderful Life: The Films and Career of James Stewart, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1988.

Headine, Doug, James Stewart, Paris, 1991.

Molyneaux, Gerard, James Stewart: A Bio-Bibliography, Westport, Connecticut, 1992.

Pickard, Roy, Jimmy Stewart: A Life in Film, New York, 1993.

Bingham, Dennis, Acting Male: Masculinities in the Films of James Stewart, Jack Nicholson, and Clint Eastwood, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1994.

Coe, Jonathan, Jimmy Stewart, A Wonderful Life, New York, 1994.

Dewey, Donald, James Stewart: A Biography, 1996.

Sanello, Frank, Jimmy Stewart, A Wonderful Life, New York, 1997.

Fishgall, Gary, Pieces of Time: The Life of James Stewart, 1997.

Von Karajan, Ellen, Jimmy Stewart, New York, 1999.

On STEWART: articles—

Current Biography 1960, New York, 1960.

Sweigart, William R., "James Stewart," in Films in Review (New York), December 1964.

Hall, D. J., "Box Office Drawl," and "Portrait of Human Frailty," in Films and Filming (London), December 1972, and January/February 1973.

Beaver, Jim, "James Stewart," in Films in Review (New York), October 1980.

Sarris, Andrew, "James Stewart," in The Movie Star, edited by Elisabeth Weis, New York, 1981.

Cieutat, Michel, "James Stewart ou le bienfondé de l'Amérique," in Positif (Paris), October 1984.

Wolfe, C., "The Return of Jimmy Stewart: The Publicity Photograph as Text," in Wide Angle (Baltimore, Maryland), vol. 6, no. 4, 1985.

Larvor, M., "Capra et James Stewart: le mariage de l'Europe et du rêve américain," in Positif (Paris), July/August 1987.

Baxter, Brian, "James Stewart: A Wonderful Life," in Films and Filming (London), June 1988.

Denby, David, "Everybody's All-American," in Premiere (New York), February 1990.

Horton, Robert, "Mann & Stewart: Two Rode Together," in Film Comment (New York), March/April 1990.

Hendrickson, Paul, "It's Been a Wonderful Life," in Life (New York), July 1991.

Stewart, J.B., "Endgame," in New Yorker, 25 November 1996.

Alter, J., "It's a Wonderful Legacy," obituary in Newsweek, 14 July 1997.

Ansen, D. "The All-American Hero," obituary in Newsweek, 14 July 1997.

Rubin, J., "Memories of Jimmy Stewart," in Classic Images (Muscatine), August 1997.

Kock, I. de, "No More Mister Nice Guy," obituary in Film & TV (Stockholm), September 1997.

Stedman, R. "An Officer and Two Gentlemen," obituary in Audience (Simi Valley), August/September 1997.

* * *

James Stewart has come a long way since his boyhood days in Pennsylvania. Starting out as an amateur magician and accordionist, he made his acting debut in a Boy Scout play and later performed in shows for the Princeton Triangle Club. He was graduated from Princeton in 1932 with a degree in architecture, but eventually joined the University Players at Falmouth, Massachusetts. It was here he befriended future stars Henry Fonda and Margaret Sullavan. Years later Sullavan would prove to be instrumental to Stewart's career by insisting that he be given parts in her films. In the years since his motion picture debut, James Stewart has earned a place in the hearts of moviegoing audiences as one of Hollywood's best-loved actors. His laconic style and boyish manner seem the embodiment of an uncomplicated honesty that also marked the career of his longtime friend, Henry Fonda (Stewart and Fonda were roommates in New York while working in the theater and also when they first arrived in Hollywood in 1935). Both men came to exemplify a uniquely American style of acting that takes simplicity and directness as its foundation.

Stewart's early screen appearances often found him playing rapidly forgettable callow youths. It was director Frank Capra who first recognized his special blend of bashful humor and underlying strength, and put it to use in several films that cast Stewart as the personification of American idealism. Capra's populist comedies, including You Can't Take It with You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and It's a Wonderful Life, conveyed the director's belief in the fundamental decency of the common man, and Stewart's skill at combining warmth, humor, and pathos in his performances made him the perfect Capra hero. George Cukor's The Philadelphia Story demonstrated his flair for sophisticated comedy alongside Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

Stewart received critical acclaim for It's a Wonderful Life, perhaps the quintessential Capra film, in which he gives a moving performance as a man on the verge of suicide whose faith in humanity is restored by a visit from a guardian angel. This movie has since become a holiday staple—being broadcast on television numerous times during the Christmas season. Stewart's air of earnest innocence lent itself naturally to stories of whimsical appeal, as his portrayal of Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey confirmed. As the gentle alcoholic who believes himself befriended by an invisible six-foot white rabbit, Stewart displays an easy and engaging charm.

Stewart's work in a number of Westerns, including several with director Anthony Mann, drew on his image as a man of honor and with an unswerving sense of duty. Again, Stewart's deliberate manner and tall, lean form made him an effective presence in this uniquely American film genre. John Ford used Stewart's image to examine the truth behind the Western myth in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, in which Stewart's character wins fame for an act that his friend, John Wayne, has performed.

Alfred Hitchcock also played on Stewart's familiar persona in four films that reveal a very different side to the actor's talents. In Rope he is cast as an intellectual gamesman whose musings on the "perfect crime" lead two young friends to commit a murder. Rear Window stars Stewart as a photographer ready to risk his fiancée's safety to satisfy his own voyeuristic curiosity, while in The Man Who Knew Too Much he is the desperate father of a kidnapped son. Vertigo, one of Hitchcock's finest films, features the actor as an emotionally tormented man obsessed with recreating the image of the woman he has lost. In all four films, there is an underlying edge to Stewart's characters, from his mildly paternalistic treatment of his wife in The Man Who Knew Too Much to his overtly disturbed behavior in Vertigo. The clash of these qualities with the image of Stewart we have come to expect makes his work for Hitchcock among his most challenging.

Stewart's long career was certainly one of Hollywood's most rewarding, and the actor's occasional interviews and television appearances only strengthed the warm regard in which he was held. With the continuing popularity of many of his best films, he remains a much-loved and much-admired figure in American cinema.

—Janet E. Lorenz, updated by Linda J. Stewart

Jimmy Stewart

views updated May 23 2018

Jimmy Stewart

Jimmy Stewart (1908-1997) was one of Hollywood's most respected and admired stars during his long movie career. He won an Academy Award in 1940 and was considered by many critics to be one of the great leading men from Hollywood's studio era.

In the 81 films made throughout his nearly 50 year career, Jimmy Stewart often played a man of modest means, striving to overcome his situation to reach his dreams. He is probably best remembered for his role in the 1946 sentimental, holiday favorite, It's a Wonderful Life, in which he plays the embittered idealist, a decent, small-town citizen, George Bailey.

Growing Up Prosperous and Responsible

James Maitland Stewart was born on May 20, 1908, in Indiana, Pennsylvania, to Alexander Maitland and Elizabeth Ruth Jackson Stewart. He had two younger sisters. According to James Lacayo of People, Stewart's mother "had attended college, which was unusual for a woman of her generation, " and his father was a "Princeton graduate who had returned home to run the prosperous family hardware store founded in 1853." The Stewarts of Indiana were regarded as a prosperous family by middle America standards and were considered strict parents who, according to James Ansen of Newsweek raised their children "in an ethos of service" and sent their sons to Princeton University.

Stewart was a lanky boy-he would grow to six foot three and a half inches tall-and he enjoyed playing the accordion and putting on plays he wrote himself. He attended high school at Mercersburg Academy, a boarding school in Pennsylvania. He played football and was a member of the glee club and the Dramatics Club. He spent his summer vacations working.

In keeping with family tradition, Stewart entered Princeton University in New Jersey in 1928, where he became a member of the Princeton Triangle Club and appeared in their musicals. Although he studied architecture, even before he earned his degree in 1932, Stewart knew he was more interested in acting. After graduation, he headed for the University Players, a theater group in Falmouth, Massachusetts, where he met another soon-to-be-great-film-star, Henry Fonda. They would become lifelong friends even though they had differing views on many subjects. Lacayo noted that Stewart and Fonda "stayed close by agreeing never to discuss politics."

Stewart first stepped on a Broadway stage in October 1932, in the unsuccessful Carry Nation. Two months later he had two lines as the chauffeur in Goodbye Again. But in 1934, Stewart landed a sizeable role in the story of Walter Reed's battle against yellow fever in Yellow Jack, playing the role of Sergeant O'Hara. He received positive reviews for this role, but the play did not do well.

After five more stage appearances, Stewart took a train to Hollywood, where he roomed with Fonda who had settled there earlier. An MGM talent scout, Billy Grady, had seen his work and got the studio to cast him in Murder Man in 1935. Stewart later said he was awful, but over the next five years he made 24 movies, including Frank Capra's 1938 film You Can't Take It With You, which won the Academy Awards for best picture and best director. He then portrayed the idealistic young senator in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) for which Stewart won the New York Film Critics best actor award and an Academy Award nomination. In 1940, he was in The Philadelphia Story with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, and won the best actor Academy Award for his performance. His Academy Award was sent home to Indiana to be displayed in the family hardware store.

A Pilot in World War II

Stewart's career was taking off when World War II gave him a new role as a pilot. Having some flying experience, he joined the United States Army and was assigned to the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941. According to Lacayo, "Stewart was rejected on his first physical for being 10 pounds under-weight, an embarrassment that made headlines around the country…. Just days after winning the Oscar, Stewart took his second physical. This time he made it, but barely." After some time as an instructor, he was sent to Europe as commander of a bomber squadron in November of 1943. Ansen of Newsweek noted, "His war record was distinguished-he flew some 25 missions and returned a highly decorated colonel-but when studios wanted to exploit his real-life heroism in postwar fly boy epics, he refused to play along." He was awarded the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross and reached the rank of brigadier general in the Air Force Reserve in 1959.

His first movie after the war was It's a Wonderful Life in 1946. Although the movie was not a success at the box office, it has since become a holiday classic. Audiences still enjoyed Stewart and related to the depressed, down-on-his-luck George Bailey. Lacayo noted that Stewart's "speaking voice seemed to spring from an ideal American center, both geographic and spiritual, a place of small towns and unhurried people." According to those who knew him, these qualities on screen were part of the real person. From then until his last two films, a television movie with Bette Davis (1983) called Right of Way and an animation film entitled An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991), Stewart's popularity never waned.

A Wonderful Career and Life

In 1949, then Hollywood's most eligible bachelor, Stewart, age 41, married Gloria Hatrick McLean. In a town where marriage and divorce are not considered front page news, the Stewarts managed one of Hollywood's most durable and happy unions. The family included four children, sons Ronald and Michael from his wife's first marriage, and twin girls Judy and Kelly, born in 1951. (Ronald was later killed in battle during the Vietnam War.)

As Stewart aged, he kept many of the screen mannerisms of his youth, but they were displayed in a more mature, confident demeanor that audiences responded to. His long and varied career includes some audience and critic favorites: Call Northside 777 (1948); Harvey (1950), in which he plays a drunk whose friend happens to be a giant, invisible rabbit (Stewart returned once to Broadway for this role in 1947); bandleader Glenn Miller in The Glenn Miller Story (1953); pilot Charles Lindbergh in The Spirit of St. Louis (1957); the Alfred Hitchcock thriller Vertigo (1958); and a number of well-received Westerns, including Winchester '73 (1950), Bend of the River (1952), The Man From Laramie (1955), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). Some critics did not know how to react to an unshaven Stewart playing a rough and tumble cowboy, but the audiences didn't mind. For his 1959 role as the defense attorney in Anatomy of a Murder, Stewart won the New York Film Critics awards as well as honors from the Venice Film Festival.

When Stewart played the quiet, confident American hero, audiences felt he was pretty much playing himself. In 1955, he was a baseball player recalled to the air force in Strategic Air Command, opposite June Allyson with whom he played in a number of films. Stewart often liked to work with the same actors or directors. He was also considered to be a good businessman. According to Lacayo, in the 1950s, "he became one of Hollywood's first free agents, moving studio to studio … and negotiating contracts that often gave him what was then an usual deal: a percentage of the film's box office receipts instead of a salary." These deals made Stewart a rich man.

In his later years, Stewart worked steadily into the 1970s, even trying his luck with two television series. He never quite lost the boyish charm that had caught the eye of a movie agent back in the 1920s. Graying and still soft spoken, he was always a welcome guest on television late night shows where he delighted audiences with Hollywood stories and sometimes bad poetry. Taking his anecdotes a step further, he had a best selling book, Jimmy Stewart and His Poems, which was published in 1989. He also received an Honorary Academy Award in 1985 for, as the Academy noted, "his 50 years of meaningful performances, for his high ideals, both on and off the screen, with the respect and affection of his colleagues."

After a 45 year marriage, Gloria Stewart passed away in 1994. In 1995, Stewart was honored when "The Jimmy Stewart Museum" opened in his hometown. Yet, Stewart was said to be distraught after the loss of his wife. Former co-star Shirley Jones commented to People "Gloria's death was a shock he never got over." Stewart died on July 2, 1997, at his home in Beverly Hills, California. As Ansen of Newsweek reflected, "It's nice to remember a world when a movie star was also a gentleman." Added Terry Lawson of the Detroit Free Press, Stewart's "shy stutter, every-guy charm, and extraordinary range of classic film roles made him one of the most loved and admired of all American actors."

Further Reading

International Directory of Film and Film Makers: Actors and Actresses, St. James Press, 1997.

Detroit Free Press, July 3, 1997.

Entertainment Weekly, July 14, 1997.

London Times, July 4, 1997.

New York Times, July 23, 1997.

Newsweek, July 14, 1997.

People, July 21, 1997.

"James Stewart, " Internet Movie Database, (May 13, 1998).

The Jimmy Stewart Museum: Homepage, (May 13, 1998).

Stewart, Jimmy

views updated May 23 2018


(b. May 20, 1908; d. July 7, 1997) Actor, pilot, and Colonel in Army Air Force in World War II; served as Brigadier General in Air Force Reserves.

Jimmy Stewart is one of America's most beloved movie stars, playing common men in heroic roles in classics such as It's a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. But he also was a courageous patriot in real life, actively seeking wartime service during World War II in the Army Air Force (AAF) and eventually achieving the rank of Brigadier General in the U.S. Air Force Reserves.

James Maitland Stewart was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania. His family had military roots: both grandfathers had fought in the Civil War, and his father had served during both the Spanish-American War and World War I. Jimmy considered his father to be the biggest influence on his life, so it is not surprising that when another war came, another Stewart would be in uniform.

Though Jimmy had already won an Oscar for The Philadelphia Story and was recognized as one of Holly-wood's top leading men, he never considered trying to evade his 1940 draft notice. He called the draft "the only lottery I ever won." While many other prominent people were coming up with reasons to avoid active service, he became the first major movie star to wear a uniform.

But it was not easy. The AAF had strict height and weight requirements for new recruits, and Jimmy was five pounds under the standard. To get up to 148 pounds, he enlisted the help of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's muscle man, Don Loomis, who was legendary for his ability to add or subtract pounds in his studio gymnasium. But he failed with Jimmy, who was rejected for being under-weight. Refusing to accept that verdict, he persuaded the AAF enlistment officer to run new tests, this time skipping the weigh-in. Jimmy passed this evaluation, earning a new job with a salary that was $12,000 a month less than he was paid by his movie contract.

Jimmy loved to fly, having gained his pilot's license in 1935. Though early in the war he narrated documentaries for the Office of War Information and hosted some radio shows to support the military, he actively sought a combat role as a pilot. He worked his way from boot camp to flight school, earning his officer's commission and pilot's wings. In November 1943, he flew to Europe with the 445th Bomb Group (Heavy) of the Eighth Air Force.

For his leadership and flying skills, Major Stewart was given command of the bomb group's 703rd Squadron. He flew a score of combat missions and earned six Battle

Stars. Like many flyers he admitted praying a lot, but he didn't pray for himself. His main request to the Lord was to avoid any mistakes that might cost the lives of his men. His wartime decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm. By the time the war ended, he had been promoted to Colonel and become Chief of Staff of the 2nd Combat Wing of the 2nd Division, Eighth Air Force.

After 1945 Stewart continued to serve the Air Force on the screen and in uniform. He hosted tributes to servicemen during the Korean War and starred in the movie Strategic Air Command in 1955, a film designed to glorify that organization in the eyes of the American public and to inspire recalled reservists to resume military careers. His own love of flying was very evident in the passion displayed by his character of Tom Hamilton, who gives up his stardom in professional baseball in order to pilot new jet bombers. Stewart continued his own career in the Air Force Reserves, achieving the rank of Brigadier General in 1959. When he retired in 1968, he received the Distinguished Service Medal.

The Stewart family tradition of courageous military service was carried on by his stepson Ronald, who was tragically killed as a Marine in Vietnam in 1969, earning a Silver Star. Jimmy received one final recognition from a grateful nation in 1985, when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. When he died, the United States lost one of its greatest actors and finest citizens.


Amory, Cleveland. "The Man Even Hollywood Likes." Parade (October 21, 1984): 4–9.

Crane, Conrad. Bombs, Cities, and Civilians: American Airpower Strategy in World War II. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1993.

Crane, Conrad. American Airpower Strategy in Korea. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000.

Internet Resource

The James M. Stewart Museum website. Available from <>

Conrad C. Crane

See also:Motion Pictures, World War I and World War II; Wayne, John.

Stewart, James

views updated May 11 2018

Stewart, James. See Ross, 1st duke of.