His trademark drawl and bumbling “everyman” style further endeared him to us.
Jimmy Stewart was born in 1908 to a family who ran a local hardware store in Indiana, Pennsylvania. He was one of three children, interested in music, active in sports and yearbook at school. When he went to Princeton, the expectation was that he would return to help in the family business, but while there, he got bitten by the acting bug. He got off to a slow start on Broadway; the Depression was affecting the entertainment industry as well as every other aspect of life at that time.
He switched to Hollywood with better success. As his career took off, he was linked romantically with Ginger Rogers, Norma Shearer and Marlene Deitrich, but he kept his relationships out of the public eye and, a true gentleman, refused to talk about the women in his life.
He joined up for WWII and became a bomber pilot, the first major star to wear a military uniform in that war.
He returned to resume his career, making romantic comedies, westerns, dramas and suspense.
Jimmy Stewart was 41 when he married. He saw the rampant infidelity in Hollywood and it made him cautious. Then he met Gloria Hatrick Mclean, a model. He said “I could tell right off she was a thoroughbred. For me it had been love at first sight. She was the kind of girl I had always dreamed of.” Gloria had been married previously and had two sons. When they married in 1949 he adopted her children and they went on to have twin girls as well.
They stayed married for 45 years. Gloria said, “I can honestly say that in all the years of our marriage Jimmy never once gave me cause for anxiety or jealousy.”
Gloria died of lung cancer in 1994. Jimmy died in 1997 of cardiac arrest. He died with his family around him. His final words were, “I’m going to be with Gloria now.”