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The 5 Roles That Defined James Stewart's Career

By    |   Thursday, 26 Mar 2015 01:18 PM

James “Jimmy” Stewart (born James Maitland Stewart in Indiana, Pennsylvania) is as legendary a Hollywood actor as there ever was, and his distinguished career that spanned nearly 55 years is a testament to his popularity. His easygoing charm, dignity, and humor in his roles resonated with American audiences who found him easy to identify with. Because of this, Stewart often found himself playing, as Biography.com puts it, “morally resolute characters” that faced their share of adversity.

Stewart died in 1987, but not before his image and voice had been engrained in the heart of the American moviegoer. He’s been impersonated famously by Rich Little, Dana Carvey, and a host of others throughout the years.

Despite appearing in a bevy of successful films, there are a handful of roles that Stewart took on during his career that defined it and set him apart from the average film actor.

1. “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939)

Stewart received an Oscar nomination for the portrayal of Jefferson Smith in the Frank Capra directed political drama. The role catapulted Stewart to the top of Hollywood’s A-list.

2. “The Philadelphia Story” (1940)

Stewart took home his only Best Actor Oscar for his role in this romantic comedy, which also starred Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

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3. “Rear Window” (1954)

The second of four collaborations with famed director Alfred Hitchcock saw Stewart as an injured, wheelchair-bound voyeur who witnesses a murder.

4. “Vertigo” (1956)

Stewart teamed up with Hitchcock once again, playing detective John “Scottie” Ferguson. The film was famously spoofed years later by Mel Brooks in his comedy “High Anxiety.”

5. “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)

The role for which Stewart is perhaps best known for is the holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Directed by Capra, the film was initially panned by critics. Over the years, however, Stewart’s portrayal of George Bailey became one of the most remembered performances in film history.

Each of the five films that Stewart starred in is included on the American Film Institute’s 2007 list of the "100 Greatest Films of All Time." He is also listed as No. 3 on AFI’s “50 Greatest American Screen Legends” list.

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James “Jimmy” Stewart is as legendary a Hollywood actor as there ever was, and his distinguished career that spanned nearly 55 years is a testament to his popularity. His easygoing charm, dignity, and humor in his roles resonated with American audiences who found him easy to identify with.
james stewart, roles, defined, career
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2015-18-26
Thursday, 26 Mar 2015 01:18 PM
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