Stewart was born May 20, 1908 in Indiana, PA, USA, and passed away in Beverly
Hills CA, USA, as the result a
pulmonary embolus on July 2, 1997.
His gentle, small town demeanor served him well in portraying a variety of characters in his long and distinguished career.
He grew up Indiana,
Pennsylvania and never forgot his old hometown. He was an amateur magician
and appeared in Triangle Club shows while at Princeton, where he studied
architecture. After graduation, classmate Joshua Logan persuaded
him to join the University Players whose members included Henry Fonda and
Margaret Sullavan insisted he be given roles in her films which was a great help to him. His "aw shucks" appeal also made him a favorite with casting directors.
Great roles and honors began in the late 1930's and continued throughout his career. When he won the Oscar for Best Actor in 1940, he sent it to his father in Indiana, PA, who put it in his hardware store. The award remained there for 25 years.
He was the first
Hollywood star to enter the service for World War II, joining in 1940.
He was initially refused entry into the Air Force because he weighed 5
pounds less than the required 148 pounds, but he talked the recruitment
officer into admitting him. He eventually became a Colonel, and earned
the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Croix de Guerre and
7 battle stars. In 1959, serving in the Air Force Reserve, he became a
brigadier general, the highest ranking entertainer in the U.S.
After the war he portrayed a wide variety of characters, including the beloved George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life (IAWL) and had the lead in four Hitchcock films, Rope, Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Vertigo.
On August 9, 1949
he married Gloria Hatrick McLean, who had 2 children from a previous marriage,
and Gloria and he had twin
In the 1950's he shrewdly negotiated for a percentage of the profits of his films and became wealthy as a result. His career remained active through the 1970's and he appeared occasionally in the '80's and even the early '90's. He also was an author of poetry.