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May 20

Jimmy Stewart

James Stewart charmed a nation with his boyishness, humor, and staunch support for the dignity of the common man, both onscreen and off.

Photo by John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

1908: Mr. Stewart Goes to Hollywood
Jimmy Stewart is born in Indiana, Pennsylvania
Born in a small town in Pennsylvania not unlike Bedford Falls, the setting of his film It’s a Wonderful Life, actor Jimmy Stewart enjoyed huge success in several film genres: comedies such as The Philadelphia Story and Harvey; suspense thrillers including Vertigo and Rear Window; and films in which an idealistic fellow beats the bad guys as in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

His first acting experiences, both on stage and in film, were interrupted by World War II. Stewart, the first major American movie star to fight in the war, enlisted in the Army, flying planes for the Army Air Corps. When the war ended, more film offers came in, and he resumed a busy acting career. This 1983 Kennedy Center Honoree was nominated for numerous Academy Awards®. He took home two.

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