“‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”*
Today is the birthday of James Maitland Stewart (May 20, 1908 – July 2, 1997) — an American film and stage actor, known for his distinctive drawl and down-to-earth persona. He was a Boy Scout, a Presbyterian and a Princeton graduate. He wore tweed jackets.
He was also a bomber pilot in WWII, flying 20 official missions over Europe. Stewart was one of the few Americans to rise from private to colonel in four years.
He continued to play a role in the U.S. Air Force Reserve after the war, reaching the rank of Brigadier General. After 27 years of service, Stewart retired from the Air Force on May 31, 1968. He was promoted to major general on the retired list by President Ronald Reagan.
He was always one of my favorite movie actors, starring in several of my all-time favorites: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), How the West Was Won (1962), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Rear Window (1954). But he also was in some lesser known films that are also favorites: Harvey (1950), Dear Brigitte (1965), The Rare Breed (1966). I always liked him as “Buttons” the clown in The Greatest Show on Earth (1952).
They don’t seem to make ’em like Jimmy Stewart any more, at least out in Hollywood. No one comes to mind anyway. So I will toast JMS tonight and perhaps dust off Harvey. What do you think?
*Elwood P. Dowd in Harvey