Stewart’s first interaction with his eventual wife was at Keena Wynn’s Christmas party in 1947. The woman, Gloria Hatrick McLean, an actress and model, was married at the time to Edward Beale McLean Jr., though the two would get divorced in 1948. Stewart had crashed the party and gotten drunk, which left a poor impression on Gloria. A year later, Gary Cooper and his wife Veronica invited Stewart and Gloria to a dinner party, giving them a chance to clear the air and start dating.
This time was the charm for both of them, as they got married on August 9th , 1949, and they remained married until Gloria’s death in 1994 from lung cancer. Gloria had two children from her previous marriage, whom Stewart adopted upon getting married.
Just like in our current era, the relationship between actors and actresses was a topic of big talk back when Jimmy Stewart was making films. Stewart did have several romantic relationships prior to marriage, but none of them went the distance. Obviously. Because then they wouldn’t have been prior to marriage. Stewart and Ginger Rogers were romantically linked for a little while after they were introduced by mutual friend Henry Fonda. Stewart dated Norma Shearer for six weeks while filming “The Shopworn Angel” in 1938, and after that, it was Loretta Young.
That relationship ended because Young wanted to settle down – Stewart didn’t. Stewart wasn’t squeaky clean, either: he had an affair with “Destry Rides Again” co-star Marlene Dietrich, who was married at the time. Stewart ended the relationship after filming finished, and Dietrich was hurt.
Getting a Little Closer
During the late 1930s and early 1940s, Stewart dated Olivia de Havilland. He even proposed marriage to her, but she rejected the proposal as she wasn’t ready to settle down. Yeah, that’s what it feels like, Stewart. Their relationship continued until just before Stewart began his military service – de Havilland broke up with him because she had fallen in love with director John Huston.
While serving in the military, Stewart met sing Dinah Shore at a club for servicemen, and the two nearly got married in Las Vegas in 1943, but Stewart got cold feet. Shortly after the war, Stewart was in a relationship with Myrna Dell while he filmed “The Stratton Story.” The tabloids said that they were planning to marry, but Dell popped that rumor.
A New Way of Doing Business
The late forties might not have been the best time for Stewart’s career, but in the fifties – now happily married – he had a bit of a career resurgence. The renewal came thanks to the burgeoning Western genre as well as his collaboration with director Anthony Mann. The first product of this collaboration was the 1950 film “Winchester ‘73.” Stewart agreed to do the film in exchange for being cast in the screen adaptation of “Harvey.
” “Winchester ‘73” was also a turning point in earnings and business for Stewart and Hollywood in general – Stewart’s agent, Lew Wasserman, struck a new kind of deal with Universal – Stewart got no fee from the movie but received a percentage of the profits. He earned $600,000, far more than his normal fee.
Wagging the Director
Stewart was also granted casting and hiring clout, and he chose Anthony Mann to direct. Stewart took the opportunity to reinvent himself on the screen. Instead of boyish charm and an easygoing manner, Stewart was a tough, vengeful gunman who chased the titular weapon through numerous owners, eventually facing off against his own brother in a climactic showdown.
The movie was a box-office success upon its release, and Stewart earned rave reviews. A second Western from 1950, “Broken Arrow,” helped grow the new version of himself. Both are classics of the Western genre, and suddenly, Stewart wasn’t just a romantic lead or a dewy-eyed star. Nobody had doubted his ability before, but he was suddenly displaying a range that was getting people to stand up and take notice.