The gangly, eternally boyish small-town hero best known for his forthrightness and integrity, plus sharp comic timing, Jimmy Stewart represented America’s most ideal view of itself.
In movies like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “The Philadelphia Story” and “The Shop Around the Corner,” Stewart built his stardom before he heroically served in WWII. He’d have a permanent place in our collective hearts just for his role as self-sacrificing George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but like other returning GIs, he’d seen hell on Earth, and his postwar roles became more complex and mature.
Stewart the actor thrived: Hitchcock played with Stewart’s aw-shucks public persona in “Rear Window,” “The Man Who Knew Too Much” and “Vertigo”; while Stewart also shone in dark Westerns like “Winchester ’73” and courtroom drama “Anatomy of a Murder.”