In Loving Memory of Jimmy Stewart

George and Mary Bailey,
"It's a Wonderful Life"
The picture to the left of this is Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in the film "It's a Wonderful Life".

For those who haven't yet heard, today, June 2nd 1997, Jimmy Stewart died of cardiac arrest. He was 89 years old. You're bound to hear a lot about this in the media, but I wanted to give my personal thoughts on this.

I knew that Jimmy had lived a long, fulfiled life. I knew that, as with all of us, his passing was inevitable. This day for me, though, is truly one of the saddest. In many ways, Jimmy Stewart, the man and his films, helped to shape who I am today.

Listing all the films he was in would fill up this site. Even a small handful of them would be among my favorite films of all time: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Vertigo, Rear Window... and the above mentioned It's a Wonderful Life. Of all his films, this one had the greatest impact on me. It's a film that I make a point of watching every Christmas holiday. Knowing the history of this modern-day fable, it still amazes me to this day that it was a theatrical failure in its original release...

An eternal flame
Film analysts have written volumes about how this was a landmark Frank Capra film. Any fan could tell you how the heartwarming story lifts their spirits. For me, there's a message in this film that always affects me strongly: no matter how bad your life seems to get, it could always be worse: you could not have been there. The absence of even one soul can make a tragic impact on all, because one life always affects so many others.

A few years ago, many events in my own life devastated me. Like George Bailey, I was ready to end it all. I didn't have an angel to guide me back; no Clarence to show me how wrong it would be to end it all. I can't even say with certainty why I changed my mind back then, but I'm sure the message of that film was echoing in my mind. After all, it had only been on TV a few days earlier (the day was January 1st of 1995).

Jimmy Stewart usually played the same sort of role: the common everyman, faced with great troubles, having to overcome them and triumph. As a person, he was a very gentle soul. In a lot of ways, his characters reflected a large portion of himself.

Jimmy will always be there in his films, but the man himself is gone. At the Jimmy Stewart Online Museum they say that he's now a true star, shining down on us all. In a way, that's a comfort, but his loss will still leave a sad, empty spot in my heart.

Goodbye, Jimmy Stewart. Thank you for all that you brought us over the years. Know that you'll be very much missed - especially by me.

Last updated July 18th, 1998