Creator / Jimmy Stewart

"If I had my career over again? Maybe I'd say to myself, speed it up a little."

James Maitland "Jimmy" Stewart (May 20th 1908 - July 2nd 1997) was a popular American film actor for a good deal of the 20th century. He is perhaps most famous for his role as George Bailey in the classic film It's a Wonderful Life, with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington also getting a strong look-in.

His other films included You Can't Take It with You, The Philadelphia Story, The Shop Around the Corner, Harvey, Rear Window, Anatomy of a Murder, and The Flight of the Phoenix, as well as numerous Westerns (including Destry Rides Again, Winchester '73, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, How the West Was Won, and Shenandoah) and Biopics (including The Glenn Miller Story and The Spirit of St. Louis).

Stewart is also notable for making multiple collaborations with several famous directors from the era, such as Frank Capra, Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, and Anthony Mann. A mark of his image as an everyman was his constantly being referred to by the public (and this entry) as "Jimmy Stewart", despite the fact that he was never credited as such in any of his famous film roles, always going by "James" (He, in fact, hated being referred to by the nickname).

He fought as a pilot and squadron commander in the Second World War and flew once as a non-duty observer in a B-52 on a bombing mission during The Vietnam War (eventually promoted to the rank of Major General in the Air Force Reserve, starting from private), and was famous for being a Nice Guy, both in his film roles and in real life.

He had a very unusual accent that is hard to describe (a sort of whiny warble/drawl), and a stumbling delivery that is very tempting to imitate. But hey, audiences ate it up. So did women, apparently, as Stewart was something of a ladies' man early in his life, but he stopped after he entered a very loving marriage with model Gloria McLean. He was also very good friends with Henry Fonda, another famous actor from the era and his former roommate.

Also known for reading poems he wrote about his dog on talk shows in his later years.

Partial filmography:

Tropes associated with Jimmy Stewart's work:

  • Character Filibuster + Motor Mouth: Arguably Jimmy's signature is the moment in his films where his character gives a passionate and enthusiastic rant. Bonus points if it's a "The Reason You Suck" Speech or a What the Hell, Hero? speech.
  • Determinator: When World War II rolled around, Stewart was refused into the armed forces for failing the military's height and weight requirements and being a tad too old (he was over 30). When he gained weight and logged in several hundred hours of flight training to prove he was capable, he was still refused for active duty due to being a beloved actor that the military didn't want to send to certain death. He pushed for it, survived the war, and stayed in the reserves for another 22 years before retiring as a Brigadier General. He also acted in the meantime.
  • The Eponymous Show: His short-lived early '70s sitcom The Jimmy Stewart Show (which is also notable as the only time he allowed himself to be billed as "Jimmy" rather than "James" onscreen).
  • Jumped at the Call: The man fought to serve his country when he had all the reasons not to, and everyone else had all the reasons not to let him.
  • Non-Action Guy: Stewart's typical role when paired with John Wayne. Ironic, since Stewart was a genuine decorated war hero and Wayne did not serve in the military.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: The kind of character most often associated with his career—due in no small part to It's a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. The former film in particular is a major Break the Cutie.

Alternative Title(s): James Stewart