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  • Gloria Stuart Sheekman
  • Gloria Stewart
  • Stuart Gloria

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Gloria Stuart (1910)

Gloria Frances Stewart

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  Summary  

Gloria Frances Stuart (July 4, 1910 – September 26, 2010) was an American actress, activist, painter, bonsai artist and fine printer. Over a Hollywood career which spanned, with a long break in the middle, from 1932 until 2004, she appeared on stage, television, and film, for which she was best-known. She appeared as Claude Rains' sweetheart in The Invisible Man, and as the elderly Rose Dawson Calvert in an Academy Award-nominated role in the film Titanic. She was the oldest person to be nominated for a competitive Oscar, at the age of 87, for that role.

  Biography  

 early life and career
Stuart was born Gloria Frances Stewart in Santa Monica, California, a third-generation Californian. Her mother, Alice Vaughan Deidrick Stewart, was born in Angels Camp, California. Her father, Frank Stewart, was an attorney representing many Tongs in San Francisco. Gloria's brother, Frank, came 11 months later. A second brother, Thomas, died in infancy. When Gloria was nine years old, her father, who had been appointed a judge and was about to take the bench, was hit by a car and died. Her mother got a job in the Ocean Park, California, Post Office to support her children. Alice Stewart remarried, to Fred J. Finch, a native of Kentucky, who owned a local funeral parlor and held oil leases in Texas. A half-sister, Patsy — Patricia Marie Finch — was born in 1924. Gloria's younger brother Frank took the surname Finch, later becoming a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times.

She later changed the spelling of her surname when she began her career, reportedly because "Stuart" would fit better on a marquee.


She attended Santa Monica High School, graduating in 1927, then immediately ran off to Berkeley to attend the University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley, she majored in drama and philosophy but dropped out in her junior year to marry Blair Gordon Newell, a San Francisco sculptor working under Ralph Stackpole on the facade of the San Francisco Stock Exchange building. The Newells lived a bohemian life in Carmel and were part of a circle of artists including Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Robinson Jeffers. She acted at the Carmel Playhouse and worked on the Carmel newspaper. Returning to Los Angeles, she appeared at the Pasadena Playhouse and was immediately signed to a contract by Universal Studios in 1932. She became a favorite of director James Whale, appearing in his The Old Dark House , The Kiss Before the Mirror and The Invisible Man .

Stuart was an activist and became a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild, but her career with Universal was disappointing. She moved to 20th Century Fox, and by the end of the decade had appeared in more than forty films, including Busby Berkeley's Gold Diggers of 1935 and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. She appeared alongside such stars as Lionel Atwill, Lionel Barrymore, Freddie Bartholomew, Warner Baxter, James Cagney, Eddie Cantor, Melvyn Douglas, Ruth Etting, Boris Karloff, Paul Lukas, Raymond Massey, Pat O'Brien, Al Pearce, Dick Powell, Claude Rains, the Ritz Brothers, Shirley Temple and Lee Tracy.

 personal life
In 1934, Stuart and Newell divorced amicably and she married screenwriter Arthur Sheekman, one of the writers on Roman Scandals. Sheekman was Groucho Marx's best friend and was collaborating on Marx Brothers films. Later, Sheekman ghostwrote several of Marx's books; Marx called him "The Fastest Wit in the West". The Sheekmans' daughter, Sylvia Vaughn Sheekman, was born in 1935. Four years later, Stuart convinced her husband they should travel around the world. When they reached France, they tried to volunteer for the French Resistance, but were turned down, so they caught the last ship sailing to New York.

They decided to stay in New York and work in the theater. In the next few years, Sheekman wrote several plays and Stuart got roles mostly in summer stock, including Emily to Thornton Wilder's Stage Manager in Our Town. When Sheekman's third play flopped, they returned to Hollywood, and he was hired by Paramount Pictures. Stuart took singing lessons and toured the country entertaining the troops in hospitals and selling war bonds. In 1946, she opened a small business, Décor, Ltd, where she sold lamps, tables, chests and other objets d'art of decoupage she created.

Sheekman wrote 17 screenplays during the next 16 years. In 1954, with their daughter studying at UC Berkeley, Gloria and Arthur Sheekman joined friends who were living abroad, settling in Rapallo on the Italian Riviera. Inspired by the success of the primitive paintings of Grandma Moses, Stuart took up oil painting. Her first one-woman show at the Hammer Galleries in New York all but sold out. After 43 years of happy marriage, husband Arthur Sheekman succumbed to the effects of Alzheimers Disease, and died on January 12, 1978, just weeks before his 77th birthday. According to the widow's autobiography, "I Just Kept Hoping," Sheekman was cremated and his ashes were buried beneath a tree at their home in Brentwood, California.

Stuart was also active in conservative Republican causes and was active in the campaigns of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. She even attended many of the Republican National Conventions. For several decades she was a member of The Wesley United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, California.

 other work
When Stuart was 99 years old, she was interviewed by writer and actor Mark Gatiss about her role in theThe Old Dark House by James Whale, and about her co-star Boris Karloff, for his 2010 BBC documentary series A History of Horror.

 death
Stuart was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 95; however, she still lived to see her 100th birthday. Stuart died less than three months later in her sleep of respiratory failure on September 26, 2010, at age 100. She was cremated.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Gloria Stuart", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.