James Stewart - Personal Life

Personal Life

Stewart was almost universally described by his collaborators as a kind, soft-spoken man and a true professional. Joan Crawford praised the actor as an "endearing perfectionist" with "a droll sense of humor and a shy way of watching you to see if you react to that humor."

When Henry Fonda moved to Hollywood in 1934, he was again a roommate with Stewart in an apartment in Brentwood, and the two gained reputations as playboys. Both men's children later noted that their favorite activity when not working seemed to be quietly sharing time together while building and painting model airplanes, a hobby they had taken up in New York, years earlier.

After World War II, Stewart settled down, at age 41, marrying former model Gloria Hatrick McLean (March 10, 1918 – February 16, 1994) on August 9, 1949. As Stewart loved to recount in self-mockery, "I, I, I pitched the big question to her last night and to my surprise she, she, she said yes!" Stewart adopted her two sons, Michael and Ronald, and with Gloria he had twin daughters, Judy and Kelly, on May 7, 1951. The couple remained married until her death from lung cancer on February 16, 1994, at the age of 75. Ronald McLean was killed in action in Vietnam on June 8, 1969, at the age of 24, while serving as a lieutenant in the Marine Corps. Daughter Kelly Stewart is an anthropologist.

Stewart was active in philanthropic affairs over the years. His signature charity event, "The Jimmy Stewart Relay Marathon Race", held each year since 1982, has raised millions of dollars for the Child and Family Development Center at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California. He was a lifelong supporter of Scouting, having been a Second Class Scout when he was a youth, an adult Scout leader, and a recipient of the prestigious Silver Buffalo Award from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). In later years, he made advertisements for the BSA, which led to his being sometimes "incorrectly" identified as an Eagle Scout. An award for Boy Scouts, "The James M. Stewart Good Citizenship Award" has been presented since May 17, 2003.

Stewart was a Life Member of the Sons of the Revolution in the State of California.

One of Stewart's lesser-known talents was his homespun poetry. He once read a poem that he had written about his dog, entitled "Beau", while on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. By the end of this reading, Carson's eyes were welling with tears. This was later parodied on a late 1980s episode of the NBC sketch show Saturday Night Live, with Dana Carvey as Stewart reciting the poem on Weekend Update and bringing anchor Dennis Miller to tears. He was also an avid gardener. Stewart purchased the house next door to his own home at 918 North Roxbury Drive, razed the house, and installed his garden in the lot.

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