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Gloria Stuart, 1910-2010

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It has been reported that Gloria Stuart, whose career dated back to the early 1930s as a Universal contract player and who gained a new generation of fans through James Cameron's "Titanic," has passed on, nearly three months after celebrating her 100th birthday. RIP.

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Gloria Stuart, a 1930s Hollywood leading lady whose first significant

role in nearly 60 years ? as the centenarian survivor of the Titanic

in James Cameron?s 1997 Oscar-winning film about the ill-fated ocean

liner ? earned her an Academy Award nomination, has died. She was 100.

 

Stuart, a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild who later became

an accomplished painter, died Sunday night at her West Los Angeles

home, her family said.

Stuart had been diagnosed with lung cancer five years ago.

The actress, who was born July 4, 1910, was honored with an ?Academy

Centennial Celebration With Gloria Stuart? at the Samuel Goldwyn

Theater in Beverly Hills in July.

As a glamorous blond actress under contract to Universal Studios and

20th Century Fox in the 1930s, Stuart appeared opposite Claude Rains

in James Whale?s ?The Invisible Man? and with Warner Baxter in John

Ford?s ?The Prisoner of Shark Island.?

She also appeared with Eddie Cantor in ?Roman Scandals,? with Dick

Powell in Busby Berkeley?s ?Gold Diggers of 1935? and with James

Cagney in ?Here Comes the Navy.? And she played romantic leads in two

Shirley Temple movies, ?Poor Little Rich Girl? and ?Rebecca of

Sunnybrook Farm.?

But mostly she played what Stuart later dismissed as ?stupid parts

with nothing to do? ? ?girl reporter, girl detective, girl nurse? ?

and ?it became increasingly evident to me I wasn?t going to get to be

a big star like Katharine Hepburn and Loretta Young.?

After making 42 feature films between 1932 and 1939, Stuart?s latest

studio contract, with 20th Century Fox, was not renewed. She appeared

in only four films in the 1940s and retired from the screen in 1946.

By 1974, ?the blond lovely of the talkies? had become an entry in one

of Richard Lamparski?s ?Whatever Became of ... ?? books.

Writer-director Cameron?s $200-million ?Titanic? changed that.

As Rose Calvert, Stuart played the 100-year-old Titanic survivor who

showed up after modern-day treasure hunters searching through the

wreckage of the sunken ship found a charcoal drawing of her wearing a

priceless blue diamond necklace.

Stuart?s performance framed the 1997 romantic-drama that starred

Leonardo DiCaprio as lower-class artist Jack Dawson and Kate Winslet

as the upper-class young Rose.

In ?Gloria Stuart: I Just Kept Hoping,? her 1999 autobiography written

with her daughter Sylvia Thompson, Stuart said that after reading the

script, ?I knew the role I had wanted and waited for all these many

years had arrived! I could taste the role of Old Rose!?

At 87, Stuart became the oldest actress ever nominated for an Academy

Award.

In 2000, several hundred fans gathered on Hollywood Boulevard next to

the Egyptian Theatre for the unveiling of Stuart?s star on the

Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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The one thing that age could not take away from her was that wonderful smile. It lit up her face in Titanic and gave it a beauty no make up could create. The expressions in her eyes told you Rose's feistiness was not all acting but a part of the lady herself. Helping to form an actor's union in the 30's must have taken courage considering the power that studio heads had. Thankfully, she had the chance to be honored for all of her accomplishments while she lived and we got to learn about what a woman she really was. RIP

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Wow. 100 years old. Sorry to hear this......

 

I wonder if TCM will do anything. She wasnt really a big star, but it would be nice if they did.....

 

Edited by: Hibi on Sep 27, 2010 4:06 PM

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She was a very big star, especially in the 30s. She just happened to outlive most of her original fans. If any of us had been around watching movies back then, we would say she was definitely part of Hollywood royalty.

 

Her career (and personal history) proves there are second acts in life. She's an inspiration to all.

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Do you think TCM will have some sort of recognition for her? She was not a super star in her day, but it would be fun to watch her in some of her 30's and 40's films.

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May she Rest in Peace but at age 100 she certainly lived a full life.

 

Coincidentally I rented Invisible Man from Netflix and planned to watch it today. Now it's even more fitting.

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FMC shows my favorite film with her in it playing a "girl detective" (how ironic after reading the post above where she is quoted as saying she didn't really care for these roles). Well anyway, the film is called ISLAND IN THE SKY (1948) and co-stars Michael Whalen as her D.A. boyfriend and she solves a murder before they go on their honeymoon. Good ol' reliable Leon Ames plays a bad guy! Anyway, she is great and looks great in this film.

 

Has anyone seen a TCM Remembers for her? I wouldn't be surprised if they had to spend the last few hours clearing the rights to show film clips of her films since a majority of her work was at Fox. Some of her most recent pics online at Getty Images shows her at the AMPAS Centennial Celebration for her 100th bday back in July and she looked great....and just fine sipping wine...and not looking a day over 70! RIP Gloria Stuart...

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She most certainly was a big star in her day. She had above the title billing with people like Shirley Temple and Alice Faye. It doesn't get more important than that at Fox.

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It would be nice and very thoughtful if TCM could do something in remembering the wonderful Gloria Stuart. While never having become a big star, she certainly had a pretty good career, considering that she managed to leave the business, when she felt like it and not due to any mishaps or a lag to her career. Sometimes, during her heyday in Hollywood, she would be mistaken for Carole Lombard by fans. In later years, Gloria often joken about this situation of her mistaken identity. I have to wonder after the tremendous success of "Titanic" in 1997, whether any of the other first choices director James Cameron asked to play the role of "Rose" regretted having said no. After all, Gloria had never been Cameron's first choice, but she certainly turned out to be a great one and perhaps the right one.

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I continue to be disappointed that her Universal pics (with few exceptions) are holed up in a vault, never seeing the light of day. Someone at TCM needs to get these movies on the air.

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Again, and I will keep repeating this, she was most definitely a big star in the 30s. And she became a very good personal friend of the Cameron family. She didn't have seventeen husbands, she wasn't in and out of rehab and she had no lesbian affair on the side...she was simply the great Gloria Stuart, a renaissance woman who ran her life and career on her own terms.

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>MyFavoriteFilms, your opinion is:

> Again, and I will keep repeating this, she was most definitely a big star in the 30s.

 

I feel this is overstating the issue of Stuart's career, in terms of the simple fact, she didn't appear in as many famous and classic films as one would have expected from a major star. The estimated few good and solid successes during the 1930s are numbered usually at around a mere 4 films. The fifteen years she was working regularly in Hollywood, only saw her have a moderate career, with nothing so technically or even artistically spectacular in terms of a great dramatic role. What Stuart is best remembered for (besides the 1997 "Titanic") from any historical basis is her early beginning in the motion picture business. She had for a bit of time, been under a disputed contract between Paramount Pictues and Universal. This situation sort of slowed her career down, while she managed somehow to appear in several films a year. The legal mayhem ended in an agreement that in effect, gave her services to Universal, but never amounted to any promise of Stuart becoming a highly popular film star. Even after the decision was made for her to stay at Universal, the studio lost faith in her and she drifted over to 20th Century-Fox. But even then, she never was able to stay so fixed to one single studio. What probably helped her career and kept it stable to some extent was her 1934 marriage to screenwriter Arthur Sheekman. He is best remembered for having written some of the best early screenplays for the Marx Brothers. Sheekman's last great screenplay was the drama "Some Came Running" in 1958. In one way or another, the whole aura of historic value for Stuart will always focus upon her role in James Cameron's "Titantic." It would have been nice had she won the Academy Award for her efforts in the now highly successful 1997 epic. But then, Stuart was always seen on the fringes of motion pictures or having become an occasional player, who never really had any solid footing to a successful career.

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Love, ISLAND IN THE SKY is a fun B crime/comedy, one that I thoroughly enjoy! I had the pleasure of seeing it a couple times back when I had FMC!

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> {quote:title=MyFavoriteFilms wrote:}{quote}

> Again, and I will keep repeating this, she was most definitely a big star in the 30s. And she became a very good personal friend of the Cameron family. She didn't have seventeen husbands, she wasn't in and out of rehab and she had no lesbian affair on the side...she was simply the great Gloria Stuart, a renaissance woman who ran her life and career on her own terms.

I love Gloria Stuart and am a fan of Universal Pictures. She was, however, not a big star.

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> {quote:title=MyFavoriteFilms wrote:}{quote}

> She most certainly was a big star in her day. She had above the title billing with people like Shirley Temple and Alice Faye. It doesn't get more important than that at Fox.

 

So are you saying that above title billing automatically equals big star?

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Yes, I think that is what I'm saying. Some may disagree. But when you've made it to the top of the pecking order, even in B-films, in the eyes of a Darryl Zanuck or L.B. Mayer, then that means you're big. You may not have the kind of (positive and negative) publicity as other stars, but you've definitely arrived in Hollywood. Even if you only have a handful of hit films and a relatively short career on top, you are still on top...which is more than most struggling, hopeful actors and actresses out there.

 

Gloria Stuart had above the title billing in several productions at major studios. She had arrived. Let's not diminish her achievements by comparing them to Vivien Leigh or Bette Davis, that would be absurd.

 

I think part of the deal here is that she was not a diva. Even in her later years, she was providing commentary on directors and costars. It was never 'me, me, me.' She did not draw attention on herself, so it's easy to undermine her accomplishments. A savvy film buff will know the difference.

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Stuart never reached the top tier of actresses in the 1930s; she was a good and respected female lead, but never had film vehicles designed expressly for her. And that was the case for most actresses; for example, one of her contemporaries, Carole Lombard, was stuck in largely the same situation (although at Paramount, she had a wider range of roles than Stuart had at Universal) until having a hit with "Twentieth Century" at Columbia in 1934. Even then, Paramount didn't really know what to do with her until Ernst Lubitsch gave her "Hands Across The Table" in 1935. Had it not been for "Twentieth Century," Lombard's career might have proceeded along a meandering path similar to Stuart's in the '30s.

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I'm curious. Who were Cameron's first choices for the Titanic role? Did they turn the part down?

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Regarding the question I asked you, I guess we will have to agree to disagree. Sometimes top billing was a way the studios built up a star, sometimes it worked, other times it didn't. Not saying this was the case for Gloria Stuart, but when I see someone top billed, it doesn't say star to me vs. a look at their entire body of work/contribution to popular/well received films.

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