Today marks the 104th anniversary of the birth of my favorite actor, Jimmy Stewart. I am such a big fan of his that I made him the subject of the very first blog post I ever wrote when I reviewed the movie Born to Dance (1936).
In honor of his birthday, I thought I would tell the story of how I became such a big fan of his and how he helped contribute to my love of old movies. I’ll also share some information on how you can help support a wonderful organization that is helping to keep his memory alive.
The first old movie that I ever watched and the one that was instrumental in turning me into a fan of old movies was The Philadelphia Story (1940) starring Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. While I can’t say Jimmy was the main reason I loved that movie; it was mostly Katharine Hepburn (and her clothes!) that stole the show for me, his wonderful performance did endear him to me.
Watching that movie made me realize that I loved seeing how things looked back then; the houses, furniture, clothes, cars, etc. so I couldn’t wait to watch more old movies. One day when I was craving a movie that had scenes set in places such as on Main Street, and in stores, restaurants, etc. and where men still dressed in suits and hats, I set out for a local video rental store (this was back before the days of Netflix) in the hopes that I could find one that fit the bill.
The only decent movie in the store’s very small classic movie section was Harvey (1950) starring none other than Jimmy Stewart. Not only did the movie contain many of the things I was hoping to find, Jimmy’s warm and charming performance caused me to like him even more. How can you not love a man who has an invisible 6′ 8″ white rabbit for a friend?
Since I wasn’t familiar with many other actors yet, I sought out more of his movies such as The Shop Around the Corner, Rear Window, The Glenn Miller Story, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. But I don’t think it was until I watched the beloved classic It’s a Wonderful Life that I fully realized that he was indeed my favorite actor. I have now watched the majority of his movies except for his westerns.
Help Support The Jimmy Stewart Museum
I have a list of classic movie related places that I hope to visit in my lifetime, and tops on that list is the Jimmy Stewart Museum located in his hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania. Located on the third floor of the Indiana Public Library, the museum contains displays of items from his childhood, military career, and acting career, and it also has a 1930s vintage theater where you can view some of his movies. How cool is that?
A few years ago, it was revealed that the museum was facing financial hardship, and it appeared that it might have to close. I’m not sure where that stands now, but my hope is that it will still be going strong when I’m ready to make the trip.
I tried to do my small part today by making a donation to the museum in honor of Jimmy Stewart’s birthday. If you would like to help in the effort, you can do so by visiting their website and making a donation or by purchasing items from their online store. On behalf of all Jimmy Stewart fans who hope to one day visit his museum, thank you in advance for your generosity!