James Stewart

(1908—1997) American actor

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  • Music Theatre


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US film star, who typically portrayed slow-speaking honest heroes.

Born in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Stewart showed an early interest in entertainment as an amateur magician and actor in Boy Scout productions. With his distinctive drawl, Stewart must have seemed an unlikely candidate for stardom when in 1932, as a gangling young Princeton graduate in architecture, he joined the university's theatre group with his friends Henry Fonda and Margaret Sullavan (1911–60). He worked with only moderate success in the theatre until making his first film, The Murder Man (1935). Films that followed included three directed by Frank Capra: You Can't Take It With You (1938), for which he received the New York Film Critics best actor award, Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939), and the popular Christmas story It's a Wonderful World (1946). Perhaps his best film was The Philadelphia Story (1940), which earned him an Oscar. During World War II he saw active service as a bomber pilot and in 1968 he retired from the US Air Force Reserve with the rank of brigadier-general. After the war he had memorable roles in Harvey (1951), The Naked Spur (1953), Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958), and such westerns as The Man from Laramie (1955), which demonstrated the extent of his range. In the 1970s he appeared mainly on television. He received a special Academy Award in 1985 for his contribution to the cinema.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — Music Theatre.

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