Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of an American icon.
Actor Jimmy Stewart was born on May 20, 1908 in Indiana, Pennsylvania. He was considered one of the finest Hollywood actors of the 40s and 50s, with such memorable roles as down-on-his-luck banker George Bailey in the holiday classic It’s A Wonderful Life and naïve US Senate appointee Jefferson Smith in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Alfred Hitchcock turned him into a dramatic leading man in films like Rear Window and Vertigo. In the latter stages of his career, Stewart appeared in many westerns.
Despite the enormous success he enjoyed, Stewart always maintained that sort of shy “aw shucks” demeanor. Yes, the boy from southwestern Pennsylvania never got too caught up in the show business hype. He even stayed married to his first wife Gloria for 44 years, until her death in 1994. Stewart passed away three years later at the age of 88.
But if there’s one memory I’ll always cling too, it was Stewart’s appearance on The Tonight Show back in the early 80s. He wrapped up his guest appearance with a poem about his beloved dog Beau. The poem was a personification of Jimmy Stewart himself: simple, kind and heartfelt.
Happy 100th, Jimmy!