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Gloria Frances Stewart (born July 4, 1910), also known as Gloria Stuart, is an American actress. Over a Hollywoodmarker career that spans more than 70 years, Stuart appeared on stage, in television and film, and is best known as for her roles as Claude Rains' sweetheart in The Invisible Man and as the 100-year-old Rose in her Academy Award nominated role in the film Titanic.

Stuart is currently one of the very few living actresses from Hollywood's Golden Age.

Early life and career

Gloria Frances Stewart was born in Santa Monica, Californiamarker to Frank Stewart, an attorney, and Alice Deidrick Stewart, a homemaker. She had one brother, Thomas, who died as an infant in 1912 from meningitis. Gloria's father died from complications of an automobile accident in 1919, and Alice later married Fred Finch, a banker. Finch's son, Frank Finch, became Gloria's brother; he later became a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times. Alice later claimed Gloria's father was descended from the royal Stuarts of Scotland, but in fact Stuart changed the spelling of her last name herself, when she began her acting career, because she felt 'Stuart' fit better on a theater marquee.

She attended Santa Monica High School and graduated in 1927; she enrolled at the University of California at Berkeleymarker but dropped out before she married Blair Gordon Newell, a sculptor, on June 21, 1930. Stuart was discovered at the Pasadena Playhousemarker, signed to a contract by Universal Studios, and was selected as one of the thirteen WAMPAS Baby Stars of 1932. As a glamorous blonde, she was quickly cast in a variety of films and became a favorite of director James Whale, starring in The Old Dark House, The Invisible Man, The Kiss Before the Mirror and Secrets of the Blue Room.

Stuart was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild, but her career with Universal failed to gain momentum. She moved to 20th Century Fox, and by the end of the decade she had starred in more than forty films, including Roman Scandals, the Busby Berkeley spectacular Gold Diggers of 1935 and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Some of her co-stars during the 1930s included Don Ameche, Lionel Barrymore, Dick Powell, Kay Francis, Raymond Massey, Paul Lukas, John Boles, John Beal, and Shirley Temple. Stuart was always a "female lead" rather than a major star.

In 1934, Stuart divorced Newell, then married screenwriter Arthur Sheekman, who was Groucho Marx's closest friend and a writer of many Marx Brothers movies, on July 29 of that year. Their daughter, Sylvia, was born in 1935. The couple took a trip around the world in 1939, and returned to California at the outbreak of World War II. Stuart worked for the war effort in and around Los Angeles and made a few more films, but her career was slowing down. She retired from filmmaking in 1946 to turn her energies to decorating and art. She opened a shop called Décor where she sold the découpage furniture she created, including lamps, frames, tables, and globes. In 1954, when she was living in Rapallomarker on the Italian Riviera, she took up oil painting. Stuart had her first one-woman show at the Hammer Galleries in New York City and became respected as an artist and craftsperson.

Return to acting - 1970s to 2000s

After a thirty-year break from acting, Stuart appeared on television for the first time in the 1975 television movie The Legend of Lizzie Borden. Her husband Arthur died in 1978, and over the next few years Stuart kept busy and appeared regularly on the small screen. She made her first film appearance in almost forty years when she had a small role in My Favorite Year. The 1982 film contained one of her favorite scenes in all her movies, a dance with Peter O'Toole, but she had no lines.

In 1983, Stuart became involved with Ward Ritchie, a printmaker and a close friend of her first husband, Blair Gordon Newell. The couple became reacquainted after more than 40 years and soon developed a romantic relationship. Ritchie taught her to print on his hand press, and Stuart soon became a fine printer and founded a private press under the name "Imprenta Glorias". Under her own imprint, Stuart has created several artist's books that are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museummarker, the Library of Congressmarker, The Getty Research Institute, the Morgan Librarymarker, the Victoria and Albert Museummarker, the Bibliothèque nationale de Francemarker, and various private and university collections. She has bequeathed her press and collection of rare metal type to Mills Collegemarker. Stuart and Ritchie lived together from 1983 until his death in 1996.

Stuart achieved a level of celebrity she had never experienced during her years as a Hollywood contract player when she was cast in Titanic as 100-year-old Rose DeWitt Bukater. She received her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. At age 87, Stuart became the oldest nominee ever for a competitive, non-honorary Oscar. Although the Oscar and the Golden Globe were won by Kim Basinger, Stuart tied with Basinger for the SAG Award.

At the 70th Annual Academy Awards, she was one of only four actresses from the 1930s who attended. The other actresses were Shirley Temple, Fay Wray, and Luise Rainer.

She found herself in some demand after Titanic, and had steady work. In 1998, she appeared with Weird Al Yankovic as Rose DeWitt Bukater in Hanson's music video for the song "River" that parodied Titanic. She published her autobiography, I Just Kept Hoping, in 1999, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker in 2000. Stuart's last appearance on film was a role in Wim Wenders' Land of Plenty in 2004, although she has given filmed interviews and audio commentaries as herself in 2007, 2008 and 2009. She remains close to longtime friend Olivia de Havilland. She attended the 100th birthday of Dolores Hope in May 2009.




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