Friday, September 25, 2009

Jimmy Stewart Biography

I just finished reading Pieces of Time: the life of James Stewart by Gary Fishgall. This is not an intimate biography, meaning I always felt that Stewart was far away in the story. You only really see the public Jimmy Stewart, although the author does share letters and reminiscences. This may be because Stewart was a very open, straightforward person. He never had any dark secrets hidden away. In parts, the description of movie after movie did get a little boring.

On the other hand, the book is very well written. There were many fascinating stories about Jimmy Stewart who become the most beloved movie star in the USA. I particularly enjoyed the telling of Stewart’s lifelong friendship with Henry Fonda. They met in New York in the 1930’s and roomed together both in New York and in Hollywood. Yet their politics were so different that they once started brawling. To remain friends they resolved never to discuss politics again. (Stewart was a conservative Republican and Fonda a democrat.)

Stewart was an authentic hero, who rose from private to colonel in WWII while flying bombers over Europe. He also served many years in the Air Force reserve.

Although he was considered a playboy in his early years as an actor, there was no hint of scandal around Jimmy Stewart. After the war he married and enjoyed a nearly forty year marriage. There was no sign of an intense struggle of the soul. He was always known as a humble person, an actor's actor who was an expert in his craft.

I was interested, too in Stewart’s PA connection. He came from Indiana, PA and went to school at Mercersburg Academy, not far from where I live.

All in all, Fishgall wrote an excellent book. It makes me want to go out and see some Jimmy Stewart movies, from any part of his long career.
Follow this link to the Librarything entry for the book.