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Jimmy Stewart

Jimmy Stewart: WWII Bomber Pilot (1908-1997)

Publisher's Note - I recently saw "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" with Jimmy Stewart. In today's times people everywhere could benefit from seeing this movie. We are at a crossroads with our country. Which ever direction our country goes in this struggle will be felt around the world. This movie points out how one man can change the course of history. It also points out the need for every citizen to be constantly on the lookout for corruption in our government.

This Veteran Served In Many Roles

President Reagan awarded him the Medal of Freedom, which is the highest award that can be awarded to a civilian in the United States.

James Maitland Stewart was born in Indiana, Penn., on May 20,1908 and died on July 2,1997. He graduated from Princeton with a degree in architecture.

Signs With MGM

In 1935, Stewart signed a contract with MGM studios and began his impressive film career. He made twenty-one feature films and continued to hone his acting skills. He starred in films with Spencer Tracy, Ginger Rogers, Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, Margaret Sullavan, and Edward G. Robinson.

MGM cast him in musicals, dramas, comedies, and westerns. Frank Capra took notice of him in Navy Blue and Gold and cast him in You Can't Take It with You. In 1938, this film won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Stewart then starred in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and received his first Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor. He won the New York Critics Award, but not the Academy Award. This happened again twenty years later with Anatomy of a Murder.

Enlists In Army

Stewart did win the Academy Award for Best Actor for The Philadelphia Story also starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in 1940. Stewart was riding high and MGM was expecting big things from him. What he chose to do next was bigger than anyone could have imagined. As his ancestors before him, Stewart enlisted in the United States Army to the dismay of MGM.

Jimmy Stewart entered the Army as a private and at the end of WWII was a colonel in the Army Air Corps. He began flying combat missions and on March 31, 1944, and was appointed Operations Officer of the 453rd Bomber Group and later Chief of Staff of the 2nd Combat wing. Fully decorated as the result of the 20 combat missions he flew over Germany as leader of a squadron of B-24's. Among the medals, he was awarded were two Distinguished Flying Crosses and the Croix de Guerre.

Continued Military Career

Stewart continued his military career after WWII by serving in the Air Force Reserves and rose to the rank of Brigadier General. President Reagan awarded him the Medal of Freedom, which is the highest award that can be awarded to a civilian in the United States.

Following the war, Stewart got right back to the business of making movies. His first post-war performance in the movie It's "A Wonderful Life" earned him an Academy Award nomination. Initially, this film was a box office bust, but it has become the most famous Christmas holiday film in Hollywood history. It was also Stewart's and Frank Capra's favorite film.

Stewart ended his bachelor status in 1949 when he married Gloria Hatrick McLean. They had twin daughters, Kelly and Judy, joining Gloria's two sons, Michael and Ronald.

Stewart's Success

In the 1950s Stewart broadened his roles and collaborated with some of the greatest directors of his time, such as Alfred Hitchcock, Cecil B. DeMille, Billy Wilder, Anthony Mann, John Ford, and Otto Preminger. In 1955, Stewart was the top male at the box office and in the top five for several years. He received another Academy Award nomination for the film many considered his signature role, Harvey.

Stewart's success continued into the 1960s and 1970s by acting in movies such as, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Shenandoah, and The Flight of the Phoenix. He also had his own television series The Jimmy Stewart Show.



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