|Who is it?||Actress|
|Birth Day||July 04, 1910|
|Birth Place||Larchmont, New York, United States|
|Age||110 YEARS OLD|
|Died On||September 26, 2010(2010-09-26) (aged 100)\nLos Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Cause of death||Respiratory failure resulting from lung cancer|
|Other names||Gloria Frances Stuart|
|Alma mater||University of California, Berkeley|
|Occupation||Actress, artist, fine printer|
|Height||5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)|
|Spouse(s)||Blair Gordon Newell (m. 1930; div. 1934) Arthur Sheekman (m. 1934; d. 1978)|
"James [Whale] joined all the English actors," Stuart recalled. "So on one side of the set they had their 'elevensies' and `foursies,' and Melvyn [Douglas] and I would be sitting together, not invited. One day, Melvyn said to me, `Are you interested in forming a union together?' I said, 'What's a union?' He said, 'Like in New York – Actor's Equity. The actors get together and work for better working conditions.' I said, 'Oh wonderful,' because I was getting up at five every morning; in makeup at seven, in hair at eight, wardrobe at quarter of nine, and then sometimes if production wanted you to, you worked until four or five the next morning. There was no overtime. They fed us when they felt like it, when it was convenient for production. It was really very, very hard work.
When Stuart first followed Ritchie into his studio and watched him pull a printed page from his 1839 English iron Albion hand press, she wanted to do it, too. After studying typesetting at the Women's Workshop in Los Angeles, Stuart bought her own hand press, a Vandercook SP15 and established her own private press, Imprenta Glorias.
Stuart was born Gloria Stewart at 11:00 p.m. on the Fourth of July, 1910 on the family's kitchen table in Santa Monica, California to Frank Stewart and Alice Deidrick. Stuart's father, Frank Stewart, born in Washington state was an attorney representing The Six Companies, Chinese tongs in San Francisco. Stuart's brother, Frank Jr., was born eleven months later. In two years, their brother Thomas was born, but he died of spinal meningitis at three.
Stuart married twice: first, to Blair Gordon Newell, from 1930-1934; and then to Arthur Sheekman, from 1934 until his death in 1978 of a heart attack. Stuart gave birth to one daughter with Sheekman, Sylvia Vaughn Thompson, in 1935. Stuart was partners with Artist Ward Ritchie from 1983 until his death from pancreatic cancer in 1996.
Stuart was given her first co-starring role by Director John Ford in her next film, Air Mail, playing opposite Pat O'Brien and Ralph Bellamy. Of her performance in the movie, the New York Times Mordaunt Hall wrote, "Gloria Stuart, who does so well in The Old Dark House, a picture now at the Rialto, makes the most of the part of the girl..." That two Gloria Stuart movies were in theaters simultaneously became the rule rather than the exception in her early career. In 1932, her first year, Stuart had four films released, then nine in 1933, six in 1934. In 1935, Stuart was having a baby, so only four movies were released. Six movies followed in 1936. After Air Mail, Mordaunt Hall's notices for Gloria Stuart came down to a few words. Laughter in Hell: "Gloria Stuart appears as Lorraine..."; Sweepings: "...played by the comely Gloria Stuart..."; Private Jones: "Gloria Stuart is charming..."
In 1933 after completing The Old Dark House, Stuart was one of the first stars to work toward an actors' union and was one of thirty-nine new Class A members of the Screen Actors Guild, of which she was a founding member. In June, 1936, she helped Paul Muni, Franchot Tone, Ernst Lubitsch, and Oscar Hammerstein II form the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League. That same year she and Writer Dorothy Parker helped create the League to Support the Spanish Civil War Orphans.
In 1934, Universal loaned-out Stuart to Warner Brothers for Here Comes the Navy. Stuart co-starred with James Cagney and Pat O'Brien, the first of nine films featuring this male team. Frank S. Nugent wrote in the New York Times, "Supporting Mr. Cagney--and doing very creditable jobs, too--are Pat O'Brien, Gloria Stuart..." In 1935, Stuart was cast as Dick Powell's love interest in Busby Berkeley's, Gold Diggers of 1935. It was a musical; Stuart did not dance or sing, and the New York Times critic commented: "Nor has Gloria Stuart anything of vast import to contribute in the position usually occupied by Ruby Keeler."
For the rest of 1936 and through 1937, Zanuck placed Stuart in movies such as The Girl on the Front Page—Frank S. Nugent's note: "Call it mediocre and extend your sympathies to the cast…" Reviewing Girl Overboard, Nugent begins, "In the definitive words of the currently popular threnode featured by a frog-voiced radio singer, Universal's 'Girl Overboard'…is 'nuthin' but a nuthin',' and a Class B nuthin' at that." In spite of the films' lukewarm reviews, Stuart had amassed a loyal following of fans by this time in her career, one of whom had her portrait tattooed across his chest. Stuart met with the fan and was photographed with him for a Life magazine profile in the fall of 1937.
Stuart was a lifelong Democrat. In 1938 as a member of the Hollywood Democratic Committee, Stuart was on the Executive Board of the California State Democratic Committee.
Early in 1939, Stuart and then-husband Sheekman spent four months traveling in Asia, Egypt and Italy, then landed in France just as France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany. They appealed to the American consul, asking to stay, Sheekman as a war correspondent, Stuart as a hospital volunteer. The consul refused help, and told them they had to return to the United States. They caught the SS President Adams, the last American Passenger ship to cross the Atlantic, and arrived in New York City in September.
To help with the war effort in the 1940s, Stuart took singing and dancing lessons, then the USO teamed her with Actress Hillary Brooke. The two blonde actresses toured the country, visited hospitals, danced with servicemen in canteens, sold war bonds. Stuart "wanted terribly to volunteer for Service overseas with the USO, but Arthur wouldn't hear of it."
After abandoning her acting career in 1945, Stuart went to New York with husband Sheekman—Paramount sent him to see the new play Dream Girl wanting him to adapt it for to screen. A friend took Stuart to the studio of a découpage Artist. Drawn to the art form, Stuart thought it could replace acting in her life. With Sheekman's encouragement, she opened a shop on Los Angeles's decorators' row, named it Décor, Ltd. Stuart created découpaged lamps, mirrors, tables, chests and other one of a kind objets d'art. Over the next four years, her work gained attention and her pieces were carried by Lord & Taylor in New York, Neiman Marcus in Dallas, Bullock's in Pasadena and Gump's in San Francisco. But in time, labor involved in "the fine fine cutting, applying sixteen coats of lacquer" to every piece and other costs proved prohibitive and Stuart closed her shop.
Early in 1954, visiting Paris, Stuart first saw the Impressionist paintings at the Jeu de Paume museum. As when she first saw découpage, Stuart wanted to do it, too. The Sheekmans were on their way to Italy. At the time, American artists living abroad for at least eighteen months paid no taxes on income earned during the residency. Sheekman was now very successful. In the eight years since returning from New York, he had been on fourteen movies, mostly writing the screenplays. He wanted to try another play. For the next eighteen months, Stuart painted and Sheekman worked on his play.
Sheekman's comedy about a sorrowful comic, The Joker, had Tommy Noonan for its star and was booked into The Playhouse Theater in New York to open April 5, 1957. April 1, it was announced the play was terminating a pre-Broadway tour of three-and-one-half weeks in Washington DC and was "taken off for repairs." Repairs were never made.
In the late 1960s, Stuart embraced another art form, the art of bonsai. She took classes from Frank Nagata, colleague of John Naka, a bonsai master in Los Angeles, joined Nagata's bonsai club, Baiko-En, and became one of the first Anglo members of the California Bonsai Society. Eventually Stuart's collection numbered over one hundred miniature trees. Some of her trees are in the bonsai collection of the Botanical Gardens of the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.
Then after seven years of working at her easel every day, Stuart was ready to show her paintings. In September, 1961, Victor Hammer gave Stuart a debut one-woman show at his Hammer Galleries in New York. Nearly all of her forty canvases sold. In the following years, Stuart exhibited her primitive-style paintings in many shows, including at the Bianchini Gallery in New York, the Simon Patrich Galleries and The Egg and the Eye in Los Angeles, the Galerie du Jonelle in Palm Springs and the Staircase Gallery in Beverly Hills. Stuart's paintings are in numerous private collections and the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of New Mexico (Santa Fe), the Desert Museum of Palm Springs and the Belhaven Museum (Jackson, Mississippi).
In 1975, after nearly thirty years out of the Business, Stuart decided to return to acting. She got an agent and was immediately cast in a small role as a woman customer in a store in the ABC television film The Legend of Lizzie Borden starring Elizabeth Montgomery. From there, through her agent, Stuart was able to get cast in bit parts, mostly in television— including guest appearances on series such as The Waltons and Murder, She Wrote. Her friend, Director Nancy Malone, gave her a leading role in Merlene of the Movies, a quirky film for television, and other friends gave her parts in their shows. In 1982 came My Favorite Year. Although Stuart's scene lasted moments and she had no lines, she was dancing with Peter O'Toole. She wrote, "It was a great privilege to work with him." After that, Stuart was in Jack Lemmon's drama Mass Appeal and Goldie Hawn's comedy Wildcats, then more bits and pieces in television. A vintage publicity photo of her was also used for the image of 'Peg', the sister of butler Alfred Pennyworth, in the 1997 film Batman & Robin.
Stuart's husband Arthur Sheekman died in January, 1978. Five years later, Ward Ritchie, a close friend of Stuart's first husband, Gordon Newell, sent Stuart one of his books. Ritchie had become a celebrated printer, book designer and printing Historian. With his commercial Ward Ritchie Press and private Laguna Verde Imprenta press, Ritchie produced distinguished books on the arts, poetry, cookery and the American West. Stuart invited him to dinner and they fell in love. Ritchie was seventy-eight and Stuart seventy-two.
In May 1996, Stuart received a message about a film role: "A female voice said she was calling from Lightstorm Entertainment...about a movie to be shot on location, maybe Poland...about the Titanic, directed by James Cameron..." The next afternoon, Cameron's casting Director, Mali Finn, came to Stuart's house "…with her assistant, Emily Schweber, who was carrying a video camera... Mali and I talked while Emily filmed us." The next morning, Finn brought over James Cameron and his video camera. Stuart wrote, "I was not the least bit nervous. I knew I would read Old Rose with the sympathy and tenderness that Cameron had intended…" Five days after Stuart's eighty-sixth birthday, Finn phoned again and asked, "Gloria, how would you like to be Old Rose?"
Stuart was asked by the Producer and star, Kate Capshaw, to join her cast of The Love Letter (1998), which she filmed in Rockport, Massachusetts. In October 1999, Stuart's native Santa Monica issued a Commendation signed by the mayor recognizing Gloria Stuart "…for many contributions world-wide and her inspirational message to always keep hoping. Dated this 16th day of October, 1999. Pam O'Connor, Mayor." In September 2000, Stuart unveiled her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in front of a Pig 'n Whistle café that had opened its doors in 1927 when Stuart was still in high school. She also made guest appearances on several television series, including the 2000 science fiction series The Invisible Man; Touched by an Angel, and General Hospital.
Even though once again reduced to minor roles, Stuart's last two movies were for Director Wim Wenders. In 1999 Stuart worked on The Million Dollar Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. In 2004, she appeared in Wenders' Land of Plenty, her final film.
Stuart died on the afternoon of September 26, 2010 of respiratory failure. Her body was cremated.
Stuart's great-granddaughter, Deborah B. Thompson, produced an e-book, Butterfly Summers: A Memoir of Gloria Stuart's Apprentice. Thompson was one of several artists who, over a period of years, assisted Stuart on her masterwork, Gloria Stuart's FLIGHT of Butterfly Kites. Her observations of Stuart's creative process—and how to print on Stuarts hand press—make it a unique chronicle. Gloria Stuart's paintings are represented by the Papillon Gallery in Los Angeles and I Dated Oppenheimer, her last miniature artist's book, is represented by Lorson's Books and Prints. Pieces of Gloria Stuart's découpage turn up in antique shops occasionally. Studio photographs signed by Gloria Stuart still circulate on the Internet.