Gloria Stuart

Active - 1930 - 2006  |   Born - Jul 4, 1910 in Santa Monica, California, United States  |   Died - Sep 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, CA  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Crime, Mystery, Musical

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Blonde, serene-looking film actress Gloria Stuart forsook her stage career when she was signed to two separate movie contracts in 1932. It took a court arbitrator to determine which studio would be permitted to make use of Stuart's services, Paramount or Universal. Universal won, and soon the actress was starring in such memorable films as James Whale's The Old Dark House (1932) and The Invisible Man (1933).

From 1936 on, Stuart, who was born in Santa Monica, CA, on July 4, 1910, was contracted to 20th Century Fox, where among many other films she appeared in John Ford's Prisoner of Shark Island (1936), the Shirley Temple vehicle Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938), and the Ritz Brothers version of The Three Musketeers (1939). Gradually retiring from films in the early '40s to return to her stage origins, Stuart subsequently decided to devote her time to her second husband, screenwriter/wit Arthur Sheekman, whom she had married in 1934. She became an accomplished painter, staging several one-woman exhibits in New York, Austria, and Italy during the 1960s.

In 1982, Stuart made a long-overdue return to the screen in the cameo role of Peter O'Toole's matronly dancing partner in My Favorite Year. Sixteen years later, she became known to a whole new generation of fans when she starred as 100-year-old Rose DeWitt, the heroine of James Cameron's Titanic. The only member of Titanic's cast and crew to have been alive at the time of the actual catastrophe, Stuart, who was 88 when the film was released, made history with her performance in the record-breaking movie. Nominated for an Oscar in the Best Supporting Actress category, she became the oldest person in history to be nominated for an Academy Award; in addition to various other award nominations, she won a Best Supporting Actress prize from the Screen Actors Guild, an organization she had helped to found in 1933. Thanks to Titanic, Stuart enjoyed a late-life career renaissance, and was soon appearing in magazines (People dubbed her one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World"), Hanson videos, and, most importantly, in new films that ranged from the romantic comedy The Love Letter (1999) to Wim Wenders' The Million Dollar Hotel (2000).

Movie Highlights

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Factsheet

  • Gave backyard performances as a child during World War I; money collected from sales of hand-knit wash rags and homemade cakes was donated to the war effort.
  • Left college to perform at the Pasadena Playhouse, where she was eventually discovered by talent agents from Universal.
  • Changed the spelling of her last name because she wanted six letters to balance out her first name on marquees.
  • Was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild in 1933.
  • Semi-retired from acting after WWII.
  • Created hand-printed art books and learned oil painting while living in Italy in 1954; had a successful one-woman show at Manhattan Hammer Galleries in 1961.
  • Returned to acting for a desired cameo role with Peter O'Toole in the 1982 film My Favorite Year.
  • At 87, became the oldest Academy Award nominee for her supporting role in Titanic (1997).
  • Published her memoirs in the 1999 book I Just Kept Hoping.
  • Passed away in September 2010, just two months after she turned 100.