Jimmy Stewart’s all-American good looks, boyish charm, and deceptively easygoing style of acting made him one of Hollywood’s greatest and most enduring stars. Despite the indelible image he projected of innocence and quiet self-assurance, Stewart’s life was more complex and sophisticated than most of the characters he played. With fresh insight and unprecedented access, bestselling biographer Marc Eliot finally tells the previously untold story of one of our greatest screen and real-life heroes.
Born into a family of high military honor and economic success dominated by a powerful father, Stewart developed an interest in theater while attending Princeton University. Upon graduation, he roomed with the then-unknown Henry Fonda, and the two began a friendship that lasted a lifetime. While he harbored a secret unrequited love for Margaret Sullavan, Stewart was paired with many of Hollywood’s most famous, most beautiful, and most alluring leading ladies during his extended bachelorhood, among them Ginger Rogers, Olivia de Havilland, Loretta Young, and the notorious Marlene Dietrich.
After becoming a star playing a hero in Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington in 1939 and winning an Academy Award the following year for his performance in George Cukor’s The Philadelphia Story , Stewart was drafted into the Armed Forces and became a hero in real life. When he returned to Hollywood, he discovered that not only the town had changed, but so had he. Stewart’s combat experiences left him emotionally scarred, and his deepening darkness perfectly positioned him for the ’50s, in which he made his greatest films, for Anthony Mann ( Winchester ’73 and Bend of the River ) and, most spectacularly, Alfred Hitchcock, in his triple meditation on marriage, Rear Window , The Man Who Knew Too Much , and Vertigo , which many film critics regard as the best American movie ever made.
While Stewart's career thrived, so did his personal life. A marriage in his forties, the adoption of his wife’s two sons from a previous marriage, and the birth of his twin daughters laid the foundation for a happy life, until an unexpected tragedy had a shocking effect on his final years.
Intimate and richly detailed, Jimmy Stewart is a fascinating portrait of a multi-faceted and much-admired actor as well as an extraordinary slice of Hollywood history.
“Probably the best actor who’s ever hit the screen.” —Frank Capra
“He taught me that it was possible to remain who you are and not be tainted by your environment. He was not an actor . . . he was the real thing.” —Kim Novak
“He was uniquely talented and a good friend.” —Frank Sinatra
“He was a shy, modest man who belonged to cinema nobility.” —Jack Valenti
“There is nobody like him today.” —June Allyson
“He was one of the nicest, most unassuming persons I have known in my life. His career speaks for itself.” —Johnny Carson
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Jimmy Stewart|
|Release Date: 10-10-2006|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Crown Publishing Group|
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Jimsy and Genesis
“My earliest memories are of hardware smells. The dry aroma of coiled rope. The sweet smell of linseed oil and baseball gloves. The acid tang of open nail kegs. When I open my nose, they all come back to me.”—Jimmy Stewart
His mother, Elizabeth Ruth Jackson Stewart, whom everyone knew as Bessie, called her only son Jimsy. It was a rare sign of warmth and affection to the boy in the otherwise rigid, turn-of-the-century middle-class American Presbyterian household in which James Maitland Stewart grew up, a household with a proud lineage tinted with vivid reds, whites, and blues. Elizabeth was descended from a long line of Jacksons, the first having arrived in the Colonies in 1773. From their homes in Pennsylvania, every male first-generation Jackson eagerly signed on to fight in the Revolution. This call to arms soon became a family tradition as generation after generation of Jacksons unhesitatingly fought whenever freedom demanded it, including the War of 1812 and then the American Civil War.
In June 1863, Bessie’s father, Colonel Samuel Jackson, heroically led the charge of his troops onto the infamous battlefield at Gettysburg, survived the bloody carnage, and was duly rewarded for his valor. His proud family in attendance, Jackson was promoted personally by General Grant to the northern army’s elite rank of brigadier general.
After the war, Jackson moved his family farther west, to the burgeoning industrial town of Apollo, just outside of Indiana, Pennsylvania, and about fifty-five miles east of Pittsburgh, in the foothills of the Appalachian pla