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Check Six – 1939: James Stewart

May 31, 2021

Off the Cinema Shorthand Society Facebook page

James Stewart was the first movie star to enter the service for World War II, joining a year before Pearl Harbor was bombed. He was initially refused entry into the Air Force because he weighed 5 pounds less than the required 148 pounds, but he talked the recruitment officer into ignoring the test.

He eventually became a Colonel (active duty) and then Brigadier General in the United States Air Force Reserve, and earned the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Croix de Guerre and 7 battle stars. In 1959, he served in the Air Force Reserve, before retiring as a brigadier general. (Walter Matthau was a sergeant in his unit).

Despite having been a decorated war hero in World War II, he declined to talk about this, in part because of the traumatic experiences he had in killing others and watching friends die. The roles he chose after returning from the war were generally darker, some say because he was hardened by combat. Stewart a dislike of Hollywood war movies, explaining that they were hardly ever accurate. During his career, he only starred in two war films: “Strategic Air Command” (1955) and “The Mountain Road” (1960).

From → History

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