89 (passed away Jul. 2nd, 1997)
May. 20th, 1908
Indiana, Pennsylvania, USA
Guest TV Roles
James Maitland Stewart (May 20, 1908 – July 2, 1997) was an American film and stage actor, known for his distinctive drawl voice and down-to-earth persona. Over the course of his career, he starred in many films widely considered classics. He was known for normally portraying the average American Middle Class man, with everyday life struggles, in his films.
James Maitland Stewart was born on May 20, 1908, in Indiana, Pennsylvania, the son of Elizabeth Ruth (née Jackson) and Alexander Maitland Stewart, who owned a hardware store. Stewart had Scottish and Irish ancestry, and was raised in a Presbyterian home. He was descended from veterans of the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the American Civil War. The eldest of three children (he had two younger sisters, Virginia and Mary), he was expected to continue his father's business, which had been in the family for three generations. His mother was an excellent pianist but his father discouraged Stewart's request for lessons. But when his father accepted a gift of an accordion from a guest, young Stewart quickly learned to play the instrument, which became a fixture off-stage during his acting career. As the family grew, music continued to be an important part of family life.
His "aw shucks" demeanor has served him well as the good guy, the shy guy or the nice guy in films like Harvey (1950) and You Can't Take It with You (1938). 'Alfred Hitchcock' turned him into a dramatic leading man in films like Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958). Stewart also starred in his share of westerns, including The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), The Naked Spur (1953) and The Man from Laramie (1955).
- (September 1999) James was named Best Classic Actor of the 20th Century in an Entertainment Weekly on-line poll.
- In 1980 he was hospitalized for five days with an irregular heartbeat. Three years later the condition resurfaced and doctors at St John's Hospital in Santa Monica installed a pacemaker.
- Along with 'Robert De Niro' (qv) and 'Harrison Ford (I)' (qv), Stewart has 8 films in the Imdb's Top 250 movie list.
- The James Stewart Museum was dedicated in Indiana, Pennsylvania on 20 May 1995
- Stewart and 'Richard Widmark' (qv) both wore toupees and had hearing problems. On the set of _Two Rode Together (1961)_ (qv) director 'John Ford (I)' (qv) became frustrated with the two stars being unable to hear his instructions and exclaimed, "Fifty years in this goddamn business, and what do I end up doing? Directing two deaf hairpieces!"
- Underwent surgery for skin cancer in 1983.
- Introduced the 'Cole Porter' (qv) standard "Easy to Love" in 1936's _Born to Dance (1936)_ (qv). His undubbed, reedy tenor voice was actually not so bad. He would later say of the experience, "the song had become such a big hit that they felt even my singing couldn't ruin it." He would later sing a few bars of "Over the Rainbow" as part of his Oscar-winning performance in _The Philadelphia Story (1940)_ (qv).
- Was of Scottish and Irish heritage.