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Jimmy Stewart: A Biography

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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, be 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 Marlene Dietrich. 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.


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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, be 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 Marlene Dietrich. 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.

30 review for Jimmy Stewart: A Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Pearl

    I couldn't even finish this book. At first, I was impressed with the minute details of Jimmy Stewart's life that the author brought to light; and the book itself being a hefty tome, I was excited at the prospect of learning everything there is to know about such a brilliant actor. What made me give up the book about a quarter of the way through was the author's odd preoccupation with Jimmy Stewart's sexuality and sex life. While sex may sell, I think that some of the insinuations were completely I couldn't even finish this book. At first, I was impressed with the minute details of Jimmy Stewart's life that the author brought to light; and the book itself being a hefty tome, I was excited at the prospect of learning everything there is to know about such a brilliant actor. What made me give up the book about a quarter of the way through was the author's odd preoccupation with Jimmy Stewart's sexuality and sex life. While sex may sell, I think that some of the insinuations were completely unnecessary. Often times they came so far out of left field that it felt somewhat creepy.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cristina

    Mark Eliot created some waves in "classic film star fans'" world when he published Cary Grant: A Biography a few years ago. Suffice to say, the only reason I was tempted by the biography on James (Jimmy) Stewart was out of my admiration for the actor--not the book's author. Despite my apprehension, I was pleasantly surprised by Jimmy Stewart: A Biography. Although one must always be wary of any biography written on any celebrity--especially one who is dead and especially described in a book not o Mark Eliot created some waves in "classic film star fans'" world when he published Cary Grant: A Biography a few years ago. Suffice to say, the only reason I was tempted by the biography on James (Jimmy) Stewart was out of my admiration for the actor--not the book's author. Despite my apprehension, I was pleasantly surprised by Jimmy Stewart: A Biography. Although one must always be wary of any biography written on any celebrity--especially one who is dead and especially described in a book not officially endorsed by his family--this biography revealed a refreshingly complex Stewart. Whereas Eliot showed narrow scope and excessive, if not obsessive, theorizing about Grant's sexuality that destroyed any vision for well-roundedness for the book and took away much of its appeal, the Stewart biography offers us a portrait of Jimmy Stewart the son, actor, friend, husband, father, and all-American hero. It's utterly refreshing, too, to read an account on an actor who was inarguably simple, but not simple-minded; private, but not snobbish; gracious and friendly, and never fake. Eliot gives us a Stewart who is neither perfect or deeply flawed, but a human being who just happened to be an actor. There are several points that may make one cringe (regarding sexuality--Eliot seems to have a fetish for such things that does not seem likely to go away in any of the biographies he writes; the Freudian-inspired digressions more often than not bore or distract us, rather than offer insight), but in the end, we admire Stewart and respect and appreciate the man and actor more than ever. Men like this don't exist anymore--in Hollywood or in the "peon" sphere. Read about Stewart's upbringing in Pennsylvania and his youth spent in his father's harware store; his mediocre performances at Yale and dreams to be an engineer; his "starving artist" days in New York City with roommate Henry Fonda; the move out to California and entrance into the Hollywood "factory"; his Oscar award nominations and win; his long-term bachelorhood; Stewart's astounding heroism in World War II; and finally, his devotion to his wife and family up until his final days in California. Plenty of charming quotes and stories fill the pages to keep one entertained--I was hooked and couldn't put this book down for about a day and a half. In a way, this book breeds a very nostalgic emotion that is caught somewhere between regret and longing, even in those who were born after the era described. Fans of Stewart and the "studio system" era of Hollywood and film-making will certainly appreciate this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    The author seemed more interested in gossiping about celebrity sex lives and telling the entire storyline of Stewart's movies than in adding anything worthwhile to the reader's understanding of the man or the actor. Jimmy Stewart was a great actor and a good man, and despite the author's lack of interest in that, it's still obvious. I thought the author used a lot of other people's books and interviews, rather than doing any investigating himself. The only thing I know he did was watch Stewart's m The author seemed more interested in gossiping about celebrity sex lives and telling the entire storyline of Stewart's movies than in adding anything worthwhile to the reader's understanding of the man or the actor. Jimmy Stewart was a great actor and a good man, and despite the author's lack of interest in that, it's still obvious. I thought the author used a lot of other people's books and interviews, rather than doing any investigating himself. The only thing I know he did was watch Stewart's movies. And wrote down every detail in them. If you don't know the ending of some of the movies, do not read this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Betsey Manzoni

    I adore Jimmy Stewart, so it was almost a sure bet that I would love his biography. However, you never know, given what secrets and sorry personality traits that biographers may reveal about their subjects, if you'll end up liking the person or not! I'm happy to report that I still adore Jimmy Stewart. He was Hollywood royalty back in the Golden Age of Hollywood and no one deserved it more than he did. I doubt there was anyone who didn't like the affable Mr. Stewart. No sordid affairs, no drug o I adore Jimmy Stewart, so it was almost a sure bet that I would love his biography. However, you never know, given what secrets and sorry personality traits that biographers may reveal about their subjects, if you'll end up liking the person or not! I'm happy to report that I still adore Jimmy Stewart. He was Hollywood royalty back in the Golden Age of Hollywood and no one deserved it more than he did. I doubt there was anyone who didn't like the affable Mr. Stewart. No sordid affairs, no drug or alcohol problems, just a hard working, patriotic guy. Jimmy not only found success in his acting career, but in his Army career as well, rising to the rank of Brigadier General and the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross (only the 2nd flier in WWII to receive this honor). As is common with many artists, Jimmy did have minor bouts with depression and some disagreements with his best friend, the Left-leaning Henry Fonda, over politics. But for a person to become and remain a Hollywood Icon and come out respected, with a relatively non-blemished reputation is nearly unheard of. His story was at once remarkable and unremarkable, but even more than that, it was refreshing.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sean Wicks

    Decent biography would have gotten 4 stars from me except for some pretty glaring factual errors - that could have, SHOULD have been caught by an editor, especially for a book being touted by TCM - that throw the rest of the book into question. I almost excused it for the first one, but by the third....well....here they are: 1) The author incorrectly states that AUNTIE MAME won best picture for 1958 when GIGI was the Best Picture winner for that year. This one is the worst of the bunch. A so-call Decent biography would have gotten 4 stars from me except for some pretty glaring factual errors - that could have, SHOULD have been caught by an editor, especially for a book being touted by TCM - that throw the rest of the book into question. I almost excused it for the first one, but by the third....well....here they are: 1) The author incorrectly states that AUNTIE MAME won best picture for 1958 when GIGI was the Best Picture winner for that year. This one is the worst of the bunch. A so-called Movie Biographer should have known this. An editor of a motion picture based book should have caught this immediately. 2) The author incorrectly refers to Cinerama (for HOW THE WEST WAS WON) as CinemaScope. Huge difference there. 3) The author states that James Stewart voiced Fievel in AN AMERICAN TALE: FIEVEL GOES WEST when in fact Stewart voiced an old hound-dog sheriff by the name of Wylie Burp. Having an elderly man voice a child mouse? Yeah...don't think so.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Borchardt

    I once asked a young, new college grad employee if she knew who the actor James Stewart was. She drew a blank until I mentioned the movie IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and she said, "oh, that guy." Unfortunately, under-thirties and even most gen-xers are ignorant of older cinema, pre-Spielberg/Lucas, in the same way that my generation, the baby boomers, was ignorant of the silent era of film. The young employee didn't know who James Stewart was in the same way I didn't know who Francis X. Bushman was wh I once asked a young, new college grad employee if she knew who the actor James Stewart was. She drew a blank until I mentioned the movie IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and she said, "oh, that guy." Unfortunately, under-thirties and even most gen-xers are ignorant of older cinema, pre-Spielberg/Lucas, in the same way that my generation, the baby boomers, was ignorant of the silent era of film. The young employee didn't know who James Stewart was in the same way I didn't know who Francis X. Bushman was when I was her age. Marc Eliot has written a great biography of the iconic actor James Stewart. Eliot's book has great appeal to me as a film buff. He not only follows Stewart's career from struggling stage actor to tyro moving up the ladder in filmdom to WWII military hero to major Hollywood movie star, he loads his narrative with context by giving the reader plenty of info on other film world issues during Stewart's life. Especially noteworthy is the author's generous ink used on Stewart's best friend and co-icon, Henry Fonda. Stewart's greatest decade in film was the 1950s. It was in this decade that Stewart teemed up with directors Anthony Mann and Alfred Hitchcock. Mann's collaboration with Jimmy produced some of the best "adult" themed westerns of the day: WINCHESTER 73; BEND OF THE RIVER; THE NAKED SPUR; THE FAR COUNTRY and THE MAN FROM LARAMIE. Hitchcock and Stewart's joint effort gave us true thriller classics in REAR WINDOW and VERTIGO and the lesser THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. Consider too that Stewart was nominated for a best acting Oscar for Otto Preminger's adult courtroom drama ANATOMY OF A MURDER (1959) and it's easy to pick the 50's as Jimmy's best decade in film. The 1960's and 70's were less kind to him. He did team up with the film-history important director John Ford for three films, but only one of those films is deemed a classic today, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE. He made a memorable Civil War melodrama in SHENANDOAH, but Eliot gives this movie almost no discussion. Eliot also ignores the entertaining comedy western THE CHEYENNE SOCIAL CLUB that teamed Stewart with Fonda to good, comedic effect. There are some personal revelations about Jimmy Stewart that informed this reviewer's knowledge about one of his favorite actors. For one, Stewart lost his virginity rather late (in his late twenties, if I remember) to the actress Ginger Rodgers. Another: Stewart, who flew bombers against Germany during the war, was shell shocked by the time the war was over. He made a vow to himself never to act in a war movie, even though he was a war hawk personally and later would voice his support for the Vietnam conflict (and therefore create a strained relationship for a while with his good buddy, and liberal, Henry Fonda.) Eliot documents Stewart's "comeback" in the 70s. Jimmy became something of hot news in the pop world during this time because his Christmas movie, IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, became a yearly TV perennial, along with THE WIZARD OF OZ and THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. and the rediscovery of the comedy fantasy HARVEY (1950), generally unliked during its initial release, but appreciated by a new audience. And Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW and VERTIGO were rereleased to theaters and TV to give a shot to both Alfred and Jimmy's reputations. (VERTIGO, like HARVEY and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, was not highly thought of by audiences and critics alike when first released. Its reputation has grown dramatically in recent years. Last year a British film institution named VERTIGO as the greatest film ever, supplanting Orson Welles' CITIZEN KANE.) There are aspects of Stewart's career that Eliot does not discuss. For instance, Maureen O'Hara, in her autobiography, noted that Stewart used his pull with a director as, well JAMES STEWART, to dump a scene he shared with O'Hara presumably because she held her own with him in it. She stated that if you worked on a James Stewart movie, he made you know it was HIS movie. Hints and rumors over the years about Jimmy's perfectionism are not addressed in Eliot's book, as well as similar hints and rumors concerning Stewart's alleged (and disappointing if true) racism are not brought up. And there is a little trivial issue that I've often wonder about and it is not in Eliot's book too. Who got top billing for THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERY VALANCE? If you watch the movie, you will see that John Wayne's name appears before Stewart's does. Yet if you look at the print ads, or the trailers advertising the film, James Stewart's name always appears first. For that film, and that actor, I personally think the print ads and trailers got it right.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    Just . . . smarmy, which is not a word that I think most people would use in connection with Stewart. Eliot spends a lot of time making not-so-veiled insinuations about the sex lives of Golden Age Hollywooders. When he isn't sniggering behind his hand, so to speak, he gives his interpretations of films in the Stewart canon. The interpretations are, shall we say, murky? I stayed to the end because, you know, Jimmy Stewart, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It's a Wonderful Life, but a more fastidi Just . . . smarmy, which is not a word that I think most people would use in connection with Stewart. Eliot spends a lot of time making not-so-veiled insinuations about the sex lives of Golden Age Hollywooders. When he isn't sniggering behind his hand, so to speak, he gives his interpretations of films in the Stewart canon. The interpretations are, shall we say, murky? I stayed to the end because, you know, Jimmy Stewart, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It's a Wonderful Life, but a more fastidious reader may want to keep a bottle of Lysol nearby.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    Very detailed biography. The only thing I didn’t like was the authors obsession with sex. Also, it ended very abruptly. Basically he died. The end. Could have added a nicer ending for such a great actor and person.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Katelyn Snell

    Jimmy Stewart has long been one of my favorite actors. This biography gives the reader a glimpse into his life and how he got his start in acting. Marc Eliot did a thorough job researching for this book, and it shows.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Vicki

    The first thing that I want to say is that this book was extremely readable. I was never bored. I didn't skip things (except for a 5 page description of what happens in "Vertigo"-I've seeen the movie, I already know). The book was entertaining. Plus, I finished reading it and still liked Jimmy Stewart, which I often can't say about biographies, since many times they seem to concentrate on digging up all the dirt they can on their subjects and making them seem like horrible people. Overall, I enj The first thing that I want to say is that this book was extremely readable. I was never bored. I didn't skip things (except for a 5 page description of what happens in "Vertigo"-I've seeen the movie, I already know). The book was entertaining. Plus, I finished reading it and still liked Jimmy Stewart, which I often can't say about biographies, since many times they seem to concentrate on digging up all the dirt they can on their subjects and making them seem like horrible people. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. There are some things that are less than wonderful about it though. Eliot is very sex focused. Everthing seems to relate back to sex. He spent a lot of time focusing on Stewart's sex life, and ever movie that has any detail gone into it at all is somehow sex themed (if not a metaphor for sex). The description he gave of "Rear Window" especially bothered me, because it was very explicit and definate about the movie being all about sex, which I never saw in it before. It didn't even sound like a theory. He knew, but didn't tell us how he knew that Hitchcock meant for it to be all about sex. I had to wonder, while I was reading this, whether Eliot wants to be a biographer, a gossip columnist, or a film critic. He seems to switch back and forth between the roles. He says, but offers no proof that Jimmy Stewart had a crush on nearly all of his female co-stars (and apparently had sex with many of them). There are no quotes, there are no footnotes that reference a source. He says the Jimmy was in love with Grace Kelly. He offers no proof. He gives us a quote that he says is as close as Stewart ever got to admitting he was in love with her, but it is only Stewart saying what a wonderful girl and a marvelous actress she was. I remain unconvinced that this means he was in love with her. It just seems like gossip. The film critic comes out in the more in depth descriptions of the films. This is a biography. I don't need the biographer to tell me about what he sees in the movie as if he is giving a very intellectual, insiders only review (some had so much film jargon that I understood very little of what he was saying). Tell me what the movie was about, how it was made, how Stewart and the audience felt about it, and how it impacted Stewart's life. One last thing. I have to wonder, from a lack of footnotes, or endnotes, or really any helpful references, how much much of the book was gossip and how much of it was true. I hate to doubt a biography, but I found one very glaring mistake, and it makes me doubt some of the other things that were in there. A few pages from the end, Eliot tells us briefly about the last film that Jimmy Stewart was in. He was the voice of a character in "An American Tail: Fievel Goes West." Eliot says that he was the voice of Fievel, a mouse. I haven't seen that movie since I was a kid, but I just sat there thinking that there was no way that Jimmy Stewart, with his very distinctive voice and the fact that he was in his eighties at the times, could play a very young mouse character, and try to mimick the voice of whoever did the voice for Fievel in the first "American Tail" movie. So I looked it up, and he wasn't the voice of Fievel, he was the voice of Wylie. He wasn't even a mouse, he was a dog. It seems like a little thing to worry about (where's the fact checker?!), but if the author can't even get what character he was correct, what else did he have wrong that I had no way of knowing about. Overall, the book was entertaining. It left me wanting to read more about Jimmy Stewart, who seemed to be the nice guy I always thought he would be.

  11. 4 out of 5

    rabbitprincess

    actual rating: 3.5 A very thorough account of the life of Jimmy Stewart. It discusses not only his films, but also the circumstances in his life surrounding the films. The author has evidently done his research well; he has provided a detailed sources section and often adds explanatory notes throughout the text. However, he could probably have used a proofreader: there were several glaring typographical errors such as "in vein" (in vain) and "staring" instead of starring, "riding" instead of "rid actual rating: 3.5 A very thorough account of the life of Jimmy Stewart. It discusses not only his films, but also the circumstances in his life surrounding the films. The author has evidently done his research well; he has provided a detailed sources section and often adds explanatory notes throughout the text. However, he could probably have used a proofreader: there were several glaring typographical errors such as "in vein" (in vain) and "staring" instead of starring, "riding" instead of "ridding" (as in "ridding the town of the bad guy"). Those errors alone were enough to drop it half a star for me, because things like that bother me. Otherwise, it was an excellent read, and now I am eager to go rent more Jimmy Stewart films to see the great man at work.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Peyton

    While I still love JImmy Stewart, and now have the strong urge to look up a lot of old movies (darn you, Netflix, for not having more available on streaming!), I have no real desire to read another book by Marc Eliot. I think that his readings into almost every film Stewart made as having some dark, repressed sexual under- or overtones, and his use of Freudian analysis for just about every interaction Stewart had with any woman says more about Eliot than about Stewart. Enjoyed learning more abou While I still love JImmy Stewart, and now have the strong urge to look up a lot of old movies (darn you, Netflix, for not having more available on streaming!), I have no real desire to read another book by Marc Eliot. I think that his readings into almost every film Stewart made as having some dark, repressed sexual under- or overtones, and his use of Freudian analysis for just about every interaction Stewart had with any woman says more about Eliot than about Stewart. Enjoyed learning more about a beloved actor, but I'm not sure I necessarily believe all the "sordid" details that Eliot felt it necessary to . . . include.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy Stewart

    Reads like a novel, a compelling window into the life of a rare actor, family man, human being. Page turning, it's impressive how Eliot makes recent history seem like it is unfolding in front of you for the first time. Has inspired me to read more biographies.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Deen

    All the things I didn't know about Jimmy Stewart. This guy was more amazing than I'd originally thought (and I originally thought he was pretty darn amazing).

  15. 4 out of 5

    andrea

    Too much amateur Freudian analysis to rank this any higher.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mediaman

    This writer has an annoying style that focuses on sexual gossip and fails to go into depth on significant moment's in Jimmy Stewart's life. It's a broad overview that touches on things lightly, then goes off on a tangent to discuss the homosexuality of a co-star or the history of a director. There are entire sections of the book that don't need to be there, and at over 400 pages it could lose about one-third of the content while making a better read. There are some interesting highlights to the a This writer has an annoying style that focuses on sexual gossip and fails to go into depth on significant moment's in Jimmy Stewart's life. It's a broad overview that touches on things lightly, then goes off on a tangent to discuss the homosexuality of a co-star or the history of a director. There are entire sections of the book that don't need to be there, and at over 400 pages it could lose about one-third of the content while making a better read. There are some interesting highlights to the actor's life, but most of this comes from second-hand accounts that are usually unattributed. The author goes overboard mentioning gays in Hollywood (and throws Cary Grant in the equation often) but keeps claiming that Stewart was straight even though he slept in the same bed with other men, was best friends with gay Hollywood men, and didn't get married until he was in his 40s. The author also paints Stewart's dad like a caricature who ignores his son's success while the rest of the Stewart family is ignored. Where there should have been depth there is a great lack of detail, and the portions that have a lot of detail should have been edited or cut. The writer is out of his league, wanting to be part film critic, part psychologist, part sexual voyeur. And none of that works when it comes to Jimmy Stewart's rather dull and average life.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    This is a biography very much of its time in its analysis of sexual politics, i.e. the women are all conniving, manipulative, and money grubbing and the men only do it because they have to. Hmm... Anyway, the account of Stewart's life seems quite balanced. He was definitely not a saint, although he still seems like a good man even after one learns a great deal about him. It's interesting how many great entertainers, like Stewart, seem to have critical and disapproving fathers. As others have me This is a biography very much of its time in its analysis of sexual politics, i.e. the women are all conniving, manipulative, and money grubbing and the men only do it because they have to. Hmm... Anyway, the account of Stewart's life seems quite balanced. He was definitely not a saint, although he still seems like a good man even after one learns a great deal about him. It's interesting how many great entertainers, like Stewart, seem to have critical and disapproving fathers. As others have mentioned, the author seems highly focused on Stewart's sexuality and the supposedly Freudian themes of his movies. That's certainly one way to interpret the films, but it certainly can't be stated definitively that Hitchcock was trying to explicate Freudian themes, whether consciously or subconsciously. In this respect, Eliot comes across as a touch pedantic. Overall, I enjoyed learning more about Stewart's life. His collaboration with Frank Capra was especially engrossing. It's too bad that Stewart didn't defend Capra when the investigations into communist activities crowd got a hold of him. I give this biography an average to above average rating for its readability and entertaining presentation.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    My love for Jimmy Stewart was when I actually first seen the Philadelphia Story;and that’s how I fell in love with his acting besides It’s a wonderful life which I’ve seen ever year when Christmas rolled around.I’ve heard about Jimmy in it’s a wonderful life but then I fell head over heels with his acting,and he is just so handsome and romantic.He’s my all time favorite actor of all time;and also Gregory peck.I rad this book because I wanted to know what else happened in his life and we all know My love for Jimmy Stewart was when I actually first seen the Philadelphia Story;and that’s how I fell in love with his acting besides It’s a wonderful life which I’ve seen ever year when Christmas rolled around.I’ve heard about Jimmy in it’s a wonderful life but then I fell head over heels with his acting,and he is just so handsome and romantic.He’s my all time favorite actor of all time;and also Gregory peck.I rad this book because I wanted to know what else happened in his life and we all know that he served in World War 2 it’s just that I can’t wait to watch more of is movies in the near future that’s the fourth biography I have ever read and really enjoyed it,and I cried last night in this book because it was just kinda sad that’s all I hoped you enjoyed my review have a beautiful day.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Pretty good bio of Stewart despite the meg rating. Knocked it for largely ignoring Stewart as a dad and some minor embellishments. Also, author editorializes in reference to the controversy of Stewart being made a brigadier general in Air Force reserve despite not a genuine commitment to it by Stewart. The author doesn’t expound on if Stewart was dedicated to the reserve and defends Stewart’s appointment because ... well ... Ronald Reagan was voted in as president so clearly actors are great mil Pretty good bio of Stewart despite the meg rating. Knocked it for largely ignoring Stewart as a dad and some minor embellishments. Also, author editorializes in reference to the controversy of Stewart being made a brigadier general in Air Force reserve despite not a genuine commitment to it by Stewart. The author doesn’t expound on if Stewart was dedicated to the reserve and defends Stewart’s appointment because ... well ... Ronald Reagan was voted in as president so clearly actors are great military assets.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Interesting and apparently well-researched book, but I was put off by the number of typos and errors: "riding" instead of "ridding," "in vein" instead of "in vain," missing words, and the like. Gloria's maiden name was not Maitland, as was stated in the beginning; Kelly was not Ronald's stepsister, she was his half-sister; and "Auntie Mame" never won the Oscar for best picture. All of these sorts of things were very distracting to me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    This was a very disappointing read! Jimmy Stewart was an incredible actor who has touched the hearts of millions. This biography doesn't do his memory justice. It has a lot of factual errors, which could have been easily researched and corrected but for some reason were overlooked. In summary, this book was trash. A 400+ paged tabloid more concerned about Hollywood gossip than recording the life of a true American gem.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kim Cloutman

    I must say, I believe Marc Eliot did quite a good job. Of course, I'm a big Jimmy Stewart fan, mostly from TV, Its A Wonderful Life, but the 4 Hitchcock's etc. Years ago someone had given me another bio and while I skimmed through that one, it didn't hold. So Eliot's style, pacing and organization had me zipping through this. Jimmy did live "a wonderful" life, but a lot of sadness, like all I guess do to the passage of time. He does come across as genuine and "authentic" as they now say.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Vince

    Very good and positive bio on Jimmy Stewart with emphasis on his filmography. Seemingly every film and play is addressed, along with personal relationships, immediate family, marriage, and almost nothing about his flying. World War II bomber command is addressed but again a disappointment. Very good book regardless.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jake Keyes

    A very thorough book on the life of Jimmy Stewart. A little too thorough, however. While we got some good information on Stewart, we get a lot of unnecessary information on the non-essential people involved in his life. A lot of specific information about Directors or Actors in the various movies. I feel like a lot of this information was not essential to tell the story of Jimmy Stewart.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    He didn't have the sex appeal of Cary Grant, nor the rugged gusto of John Wayne. No. Jimmy Stewart had other unique qualities that led him to stardom. He was naturally charming in a quiet, All-American, boyish way. He was an easy-going professional, very well-liked and respected in Hollywood and loved by his family and many life-long friends. Although he dreamed of flying planes (and learned to fly before WWII), he found a passion in acting. Eventually, he'd follow the footsteps of the men in his He didn't have the sex appeal of Cary Grant, nor the rugged gusto of John Wayne. No. Jimmy Stewart had other unique qualities that led him to stardom. He was naturally charming in a quiet, All-American, boyish way. He was an easy-going professional, very well-liked and respected in Hollywood and loved by his family and many life-long friends. Although he dreamed of flying planes (and learned to fly before WWII), he found a passion in acting. Eventually, he'd follow the footsteps of the men in his family and join the service, the Army Air Force, where he'd become a WWII hero. In some ways he was Jefferson Smith ("Mr. Smith Goes To Washington"), in other ways he was George Baily ("It's A Wonderful Life"). But there's no doubt that Jimmy Stewart was truly a Hollywood legend who'll be remembered and loved always.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Matheny

    EXTREMELY detailed. I am a Jimmy Stewart fan, this is for Superfans who own all of his movies and do impressions of him at every party. I read, then I skimmed, stopped for the pictures, skimmed again, then stopped to read the last chapters. still worthy of 5 ⭐

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Garner

    The book was enjoyable. However, true fans of Jimmy Stewart don’t need a scene by scene recap of his movies. I could’ve used more about Jimmy and less detail about his movies. Other than that, good book to read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    A good Stewart biography, but a little too much in-depth analysis of the psychological meaning to the Hitchcock movies.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    Such an interesting biography! Makes me like him even more!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andy Hickman

    Marc Eliot, “Jimmy Stewart: A Biography” (NY: Harmony Books, 2006) Thoroughly researched biography about James Maitland "Jimmy" Stewart (1908 – 1997) with film synopses and filmography, many source materials, and extensive notes. Anthony Mann directed Jimmy in eight films, and said, “All the great stars that the public love have clear eyes … The eyes do everything: they're the permanent reflection of the internal flame that animates the hero. Without those eyes, you can only aspire to second-strin Marc Eliot, “Jimmy Stewart: A Biography” (NY: Harmony Books, 2006) Thoroughly researched biography about James Maitland "Jimmy" Stewart (1908 – 1997) with film synopses and filmography, many source materials, and extensive notes. Anthony Mann directed Jimmy in eight films, and said, “All the great stars that the public love have clear eyes … The eyes do everything: they're the permanent reflection of the internal flame that animates the hero. Without those eyes, you can only aspire to second-string roles.” (p3). Peculiar title for 'Part Three': “Mr Christ Goes to Calvary”, an obvious play on Jimmy's role as the innocent naïve crusader for justice in 'Mr Smith Goes to Washington' (1939), (p103). Much of the outside scenes in 'Mr Smith Goes to Washington' (1939) was unscripted secret footage of him mingling in with the crowd (p122). “So popular was the character of Jefferson Smith that Jimmy Stewart himself became an immediate American symbol of intellectual purity, tall, dark, and smart – Clarke Gable with a college degree, John Wayne with a driver's license (no Cary Grant to be sure, but no Claude Rains either).” (p126) Gable, Cooper and Grant were the top three leading men of the late 1930's (p113). Jimmy's love interests included Ginger Rogers (p74) and Marlene Dietrich, his “madonna-whore” whom he got pregnant (p130, 136-137). He was an avid reader of 'Flash Gordon' comic books (and the actor Larry “Buster” Crabbe) (p137). “The stars with staying power all had distinctive voices that were essential to the continuing thread in their characterizations. … Voice is at the heart of the appeal of 'The Philadelphia Story'. With Stewart, Katherine Hepburn, and Cary Grant, the picture is a veritable summit meeting of memorable voices.” - David Freeman (p150) Interesting description of the post-WWI “shift” where one's like John Wayne began to play aging, angry father figures, whilst newcomers such as Montgomery Clift “... served as the linchpin for a group of Broadway-bred 'sensitive' actors that included Marlon Brando and James Dean. Virtually every good-looking actor under thirty summarily rejected the stylistic acting ways of the Duke, and by extension the entire 'Greatest Generation'.” (p210-211) Despite his warnings his good friend Henry Fonda supported Bacall, Bogart and Huston in their denouncement of HUAC. (p228) Johnny Fontaine in 'The Godfather' may have in fact been based not on Frank Sinatra but Ronald Reagan. (p287) Fascinating analysis of his role in the John Ford directed 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' (p344). Peter Bogdanovich wanted to direct a story called 'Streets of Laredo' with a dream cast of Jimmy, Henry Fonda and John Wayne. It didn't happen but the screenplay later resurfaced as the TV series 'Lonesome Dove', with Robert Duvall in the Jimmy Stewart role, and Tommy Lee Jones in the Wayne role (p383). 'It's a Wonderful Life' had been reduced to a forgotten antiquity until it made a sudden resurrection in the Christmas of 1969. (p372) The death of his (step-) son, Ronnie aged 24, in Vietnam was a devastating blow to Jimmy. (p366)

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