James Stewart: Career, Movies, Height, Hit Movies, Roles

James Stewart

The “Third Greatest American Make Actor,” James Stewart, is not just an American actor but also a military pilot serving the American Air Force. Known for his “everyman screen persona,” James Stewart played in movies over 80 films from 1935 to the year 1991 till he retired. 

So if you want to know more about this brilliant man, who even received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985, then keep on scrolling to know more about this brilliant man. 


Before we know more about this famous actor and army man, here are a few details that you should know. 

Born James Maitland Stewart,
May 20th, 1908, 
Indiana, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedJuly 2nd, 1997 (age 89),
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Resting PlaceForest Lawn Memorial Park, 
Glendale, California, U.S.
OccupationActor, Military Pilot.
Years Active1932 – 1991
SpouseGloria Hatrick McLean (m. 1949 – died 1994)
Military CareerUnited States Army,
Army Air Forces,
United States Air Force
Years of Service1941 – 1947 (Army)
1947 – 1968 (Air Force)
Rank Brigadier General
BattlesWorld War II,
Korean War,
Vietnam War
Commands Held703rd Bombardment Squadron
Unit2nd Bombardment Wing,
Air Force Reserve

Early Life

Early Life

The famous James Stewart was the eldest child among three children to Elizabeth Ruth and Alexander Maitland Stewart. Stewart had two younger sisters, Mary and Virginia. The family was of Scottish-Irish ancestry. 

Being from a well-to-do family, where his father ran a family business, and his mother was a pianist, Stewart grew up quite well. And being a lower-than-average student at school, he attended a public high school and was involved in a lot of different activities. 

Being a member of the glee club and track team and an editor of the school yearbook. In 1928, Stewart enrolled at Princeton University with a major in architecture, and he also became a member of Princeton Charter Club. 

After excelling in his studies, he joined the music and drama clubs and also the Princeton Triangle Club. 



Like most actors and actresses at that time, James Stewart too started his career with theatre and performing arts. Since then, he has been friends with Henry Fonda and his then-wife Margaret Sullavan. 

Along with Myron McCormick, Stewart made his Broadway debut with the play Carry Nation, they again appeared together in a comedy play Goodbye Again. Continuing his acting prowess, James Stewart played in the play Yellow Jack, for which he received universal praise from critics but not from the audience. 

After being recognized for his plays, he made his first film debut with the movie Art Trouble, then continued to get roles in movies like Divided By Three and Page Miss Glory. 

He then signed a contract deal with MGM, he first appeared in a minor role for his first Hollywood film, The Murder Man. Playing only smaller roles with MGM, Stewart received great help from Margeret Sullavan for the film Next Time We Love. 

Then he went on to act in movies like Wife vs. Secretary and Small Town Girl. Although Stewart only played minor roles with MGM, he was also loaned to other production companies as well. 

After coming to RKO studios

After coming to RKO studios, he was cast opposite Ginger Rogers in the film Vivacious Lady. Then slowly, he starred in movies like The Shopworm Angel and You Can’t Take It With You, which was a big success, also winning an Academy Award for Best Picture. 

After this success, he starred in Made For Each Other, The Ice Follies of 1939, and It’s a Wonderful World. With the comedy-drama “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” James Stewart was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. 

Post-World War II

Post-World War II

Post-World War II, James Stewart starred in movies like It’s a Wonderful Life. After the movie, Stewart wanted to retire from acting after doubting his acting ability, in front of new actors, like Marlon Brando, James Dean, and Montgomery Clift. 

This was when he made a comeback to Broadway with Harvey in 1947, after replacing the actor Frank Fay. He then starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope and The Stratton Story. He even starred in the movie adaptation of the play Harvey, which was directed by Henry Koster. 

Personal Life

Personal Life

Since the beginning, his carer, Margaret Sullavan, played a big role in his film career, and he also began infatuated with her. But she never gave any other indication other than being a close friend and mentor. 

Although James Stewart never married till he was in his forties, he was called the “Great American Bachelor.”

James dated many actresses like Norma Shearer, Loretta Young, and even Marlene Dietrich. It was rumored that Marlene allegedly became pregnant but was terminated since she was married. Stewart even dated Olivia De Havilland but ended their relationship before he went for his military service.

Stewart first met his wife, Gloria Hatrick McLean, at the Christmas party of Keenan Wynn. Soon after, they started dating, and Stewart married the former model with two children, they stayed married until she died of lung cancer in 1994. The couple also had twin girls along with Gloria’s two sons. 

Frequently Asked Questions!

If you have any more questions regarding James Stewart, then here are a few questions that others have asked.

1. What Movies Did James Stewart Play In?

The movies that were played by James Stewart are, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Philadelphia Story, Vertigo, and Rear Window.

2. What Was James Stewart’s Breakout Role?

The film that made James Stewart was “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” For this film, he even won an Academy Award for Best Actor.

3. What Movie Made Jimmy Steward Famous?

The film that made James Stewart famous was “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Here he played the role of George Bailey in this 1946 classic Frank Capra film.

Wrapping Up!

Now that we know a bit much about the movies that James Stewart made, the significance and performance given by him cannot be experienced through words. This is why you need to watch those movies, to experience the magic. 

So now that you know a few of these movies, it’s time that you go watch the movies if you haven’t already.

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Nabamita Sinha