Jimmy Stewart's all-American good looks, boyish charm, and
deceptively easygoing style of acting made him one of Hollywood's
greatest and most enduring stars. Despite the indelible image he
projected of innocence and quiet self-assurance, Stewart's life was
more complex and sophisticated than most of the characters he
played. With fresh insight and unprecedented access, bestselling
biographer Marc Eliot finally tells the previously untold story of
one of our greatest screen and real-life heroes.
Born into a family of high military honor and economic success
dominated by a powerful father, Stewart developed an interest in
theater while attending Princeton University. Upon graduation, he
roomed with the then-unknown Henry Fonda, and the two began a
friendship that lasted a lifetime. While he harbored a secret
unrequited love for Margaret Sullavan, Stewart was paired with many
of Hollywood's most famous, most beautiful, and most alluring
leading ladies during his extended bachelorhood, among them Ginger
Rogers, Olivia de Havilland, Loretta Young, and the notorious
After becoming a star playing a hero in Frank Capra's "Mr. Smith
Goes to Washington" in 1939 and winning an Academy Award the
following year for his performance in George Cukor's "The
Philadelphia Story," Stewart was drafted into the Armed Forces and
became a hero in real life. When he returned to Hollywood, he
discovered that not only the town had changed, but so had he.
Stewart's combat experiences left him emotionally scarred, and his
deepening darkness perfectly positioned him for the '50s, in which
he made his greatest films, for Anthony Mann ("Winchester '73" and
"Bend of the River") and, most spectacularly, Alfred Hitchcock, in
his triple meditation on marriage, "Rear Window," "The Man Who Knew
Too Much," and "Vertigo," which many film critics regard as the
best American movie ever made.
While Stewart's career thrived, so did his personal life. A
marriage in his forties, the adoption of his wife's two sons from a
previous marriage, and the birth of his twin daughters laid the
foundation for a happy life, until an unexpected tragedy had a
shocking effect on his final years.
Intimate and richly detailed, Jimmy Stewart is a fascinating
portrait of a multi-faceted and much-admired actor as well as an
extraordinary slice of Hollywood history.
"Probably the best actor who's ever hit the screen." --Frank
"He taught me that it was possible to remain who you are and not be
tainted by your environment. He was not an actor . . . he was the
real thing." --Kim Novak
"He was uniquely talented and a good friend." --Frank
"He was a shy, modest man who belonged to cinema nobility." --Jack
"There is nobody like him today." --June Allyson
"He was one of the nicest, most unassuming persons I have known in
my life. His career speaks for itself." --Johnny Carson
"From the Hardcover edition."
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