Stewart’s funeral included more than 3000 mourners, including co-stars such as June Allyson, Carol Burnett, Bob Hope, and plenty of other famous names. The service included full military honors and three volleys of musketry. He left behind three children and almost 100 acting projects, not including documentaries or projects where he appeared as himself.
He was in charge of delivering emotion in some of the biggest movies ever, and he started as a little kid who just wanted to fly. He spent plenty of time among the clouds, both in a plane and at the heights that Hollywood had to offer. He was the kind of guy that anybody wanted to meet, but few had the opportunity. They had to make do with watching his heart-bursting roles in movies that are still being praised to this day.
Loving the Home Life
After he and Gloria had gotten married, they bought a home in Beverly Hills in 1951 – they stayed there for the rest of their lives. Stewart adopted Gloria’s two children from her previous marriage, Ronald and Michael, and the pair also had daughters, twins Judy and Kelly, on May 7th, 1951. At the age of 24, Ronald was killed in action in the Vietnam War, serving as a lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1969.
Jimmy and Gloria remained married until Gloria’s death in 1994 from lung cancer at the age of 75. Like her husband, she enjoyed skeet shooting, fishing, animals, and travel. She was a supporter of conserving big-game animals rather than hunting them, and she was able to bring Jimmy around to the same viewpoint after enough time.
Not an Open Book
Jimmy Stewart always kept details about his personal life close to the vest. He was guarded, and he tended to keep himself emotionally unavailable during interviews, as opposed to the emotion he showed in films. He kept his thoughts and feelings to himself. People even went so far as to describe him as a loner who didn’t have close relationships with a lot of people.
Director John Ford once said that you don’t get to know Jimmy Stewart; Jimmy Stewart gets to know you. If Twitter or any other social media had been around during his day, we doubt that he would have been very interested. Just makes you like him a little more, you know? You don’t have to know everything about your favorite actor.
There Was a Lot to Him
Stewart was one of the greatest actors ever. He made it to the rank of Brigadier General in the Air Force. What else could he have possibly done? He was a big investor in things such as real estate, oil wells, and the charter plane company Southwest Airways. He was on corporate boards. He was active in philanthropy – he was the vice-chairman of entertainment for the American Red Cross’s fund-raising campaign for wounded soldiers in Vietnam, and he regularly donated to improvements and upgrades in his home of Indiana, Pennsylvania.
He started a signature charity event, “The Jimmy Stewart Relay Marathon Race,” which has been held annually since 1982, raising millions of dollars for the Child and Family Development Center at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
Losing a Legend
After Gloria’s death in 1994, Stewart fell into depression. He spent even more time away from the public eye. Now in his mid-eighties, many of Stewart’s friends had already passed. He spent much of his time in his bedroom, exiting only to take meals and visit his children. He ignored the media, fans, and friends, and his remaining friends said that he finally had a chance to rest and be alone.
In December of 1995, Stewart was hospitalized after a fall. A year later, he opted not to have the battery in his peacemaker changed, leading to an irregular heartbeat a few months later. A thrombosis formed in his right leg, leading to a pulmonary embolism and eventually a heart attack. James Stewart died on July second, 1997.