In Memoriam: James Stewart's Career Highlights

In memoriam: James Stewart. These are his career highlights
May 20, 2020 - 14:00 / Cynthia Springer

James Stewart is remembered as an icon of old Hollywood. The American actor had starred in over 60 films throughout his famed career with some of the most renowned directors. We're showing you James Stewart's career highlights!

Born on May 20th, 1908, James Maitland Stewart grew up in a family of five in Indiana, Pennsylvania. During his studies at Princeton University in 1928, Stewart was interested in aviation design and majored in architecture. While he excelled in his studies, he also developed an interest in the university's drama and music clubs

In Memoriam: James Stewart's Career Highlights

During the summer of 1932, James became part of the University Players in Massachusetts, a summer stock theatre where Stewart participated in multiple productions. His performances gained praise and led him to other various theatres in New York. Thus, by 1935, James was offered a seven-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Meyers (MGM), which he naturally signed. 

Portrait of James Stewart (1908 -1997) seated wearing a tan suit, 1940s

He went to star in MANY films throughout the remainder of the 1930's, including Small Town Girl (1936)After the Thin Man (1936), Seventh Heaven (1937) and Navy Blue and Gold (1937), to name a few!

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While he loaned out to different production companies, such as 20th Century-Fox, he was still a rather minor star in Hollywood. It wasn't until the loan of Columbia Pictures where his career really took off! He was cast in Frank Capra's You Can't Take It With You (1938) which won an Academy Award for Best Picture

James Stewart and Edward Arnold in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

In 1939, he starred in another Capra film, also alongside Jean Arthur in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. He received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor

James Stewart and the 1940s

In 1940, James starred in the box-office hit, The Philadelphia Story, opposite Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, where Stewart won an Oscar for Best Actor! However, it was in 1941 where his acting career took a pause, as James enlisted himself in the US Army to combat in World War II. He served in the Air Corps, and didn't officially retire until May 1968. He received the United States Air Force Distinguished Service Medal upon his retirement in the service. 

James Stewart (1908 - 1997) as a Captain in the United States Air Force during World War II, circa 1943

After his war experiences in 1945, Stewart returned to acting but no longer with MGM. He made his debut again in Frank Capra's famed It's a Wonderful Life (1946), which received five Oscar nominations, including a nomination for Best Actor for Stewart. His career remained successful, even until the 1980's! He would star in many Western films, and receive many awards and accolades.

James Stewart married actress and model Gloria Hatrick McLean in 1949, and eventually adopted her two sons from her previous marriage. 

James Stewart (1908 - 1997) with his wife Gloria Hatrick McLean

She tragically died due to lung cancer in February 1994. Depressed without his beautiful wife, Stewart isolated himself in his Beverly Hills home until a heart attack took his life on July 2nd, 1997. 

Here are James Stewart's most remembered films: 

  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
  • The Philadelphia Story (1940)
  • It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • Rope (1948)
  • Harvey (1950)
  • Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
  • Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1963)
  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence (1963)

Rest in peace, James.