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Stuart in 1937
July 4, 1910
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Died||September 26, 2010 (aged 100)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|Respiratory failure; lung cancer|
|Education||University of California, Berkeley|
|Occupation||Actress, artist, fine printer|
|Spouse(s)||Blair Gordon Newell|
(1934–1978; his death)
|Children||Sylvia Vaughn Thompson|
Stuart in 1937
July 4, 1910
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Died||September 26, 2010 (aged 100)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|Respiratory failure; lung cancer|
|Education||University of California, Berkeley|
|Occupation||Actress, artist, fine printer|
|Spouse(s)||Blair Gordon Newell|
(1934–1978; his death)
|Children||Sylvia Vaughn Thompson|
Gloria Stewart, known as Gloria Stuart, (July 4, 1910 – September 26, 2010) was an American actress, artist and fine printer.
Stuart began her acting career in the theater. In the 1930s and 1940s, she performed in little theater and summer stock on both coasts. Her career in the movies spanned from 1932 to 2004—with a twenty-nine year break. Her iconic film role was the 100-year-old Old Rose in the Academy Award-winning film Titanic. In recognition of this work, she was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress. At eighty-seven she was the oldest person to be nominated in a supporting role up to that time.
Stuart was born Gloria Stewart  at eleven o'clock at night on the dining room table at home in Santa Monica, California. She was a third-generation Californian. Stuart's grandmother, Alice Vaughan, was born in Angels Camp, gold country, and her mother, Alice Diedrick, was born in Selma in the San Joaquin Valley, daughter of a blacksmith. Stuart's father, Frank Stewart, was born in Washington state. Stewart was an attorney representing The Six Companies, Chinese tongs in San Francisco.
Stuart's brother, Frank Jr., was born eleven months later. In two years, Gloria Stuart and Frank were joined by their brother Thomas, but Thomas Stewart died of spinal meningitis when he was three.
When Stuart 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 of his injuries. Hard-pressed to support two small children, Alice soon accepted the proposal of Fred J. Finch, a local businessman with oil leases in Texas. Half-sister Patricia Marie Finch was born in 1924. Stuart went through school as Gloria Fae Finch. Since her parents did not give her a middle name, she often adopted one (sometimes it was Frances, the feminine of her father's name).
Stuart wrote a play with a starring role for herself when she was eight, then performed it in the back yard for her family and neighbors. It was 1918, and her mother charged admission of knitted wash cloths for the soldiers overseas.
At Santa Monica High School, Stuart acted in plays, had the lead in her senior class play, The Swan. She loved writing as much as she loved acting. As a girl, she began her custom of filling notebooks and scrapbooks with poetry and literary excerpts. She spent her last two summers in high school taking classes in short story and poetry writing while working as a cub reporter for the Santa Monica Outlook.
At the University of California at Berkeley, Stuart majored in philosophy and drama, appeared in more plays, worked on the Daily Californian, contributed to the campus literary journal, Occident, and posed as an artist's model. She never had any money because her stepfather did not support her choices. Her mother had to borrow Stuart's tuition and room and board from an old friend of Frank Stewart's. So for pocket money, Stuart posed for artists. She noted in her book, "What a daring thing to do! Gloria Stuart, posing naked in a San Francisco artist's studio--me a member of the Santa Monica haute bourgeoisie! I luxuriated in the idea...Ah! La vie bohème!" Rebelliousness was in Stuart's bones. In the third grade, Stuart kicked her teacher in the backside and was expelled from Roosevelt School. In Santa Monica High School, she relished having the highest number of demerits of any student in the school's history. "I always hated being ordinary..."
It was at Berkeley that she began signing her name, Gloria Stuart. She decided that the six letters of Stuart would look better on a marquee than the seven letters of her father's name.
Stuart wrote that her mother was a superb cook and "...gave our family a lovely calendar of celebratory days." Stuart inherited Alice's gifts and at Berkeley began her lifelong love affair with cooking and entertaining. Once, the blonde co-ed was invited with friends to the house of guest lecturer J. Robert Oppenheimer. The professor served a hot curry dinner. Stuart was impressed—and she impressed him. Oppenheimer invited her to dinner and a concert in San Francisco. I Dated Oppenheimer was the title of Stuart's last miniature artist's book.
At the end of her junior year, in June, 1930, Stuart married Blair Gordon Newell, a young sculptor who had apprenticed with Ralph Stackpole on the facade of the San Francisco Stock Exchange building. The Newells moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea, where there was a stimulating community of artists and movers and shakers such as Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Robinson Jeffers and Lincoln Steffens and his wife Ella Winter.
Stuart acted at the Theatre of the Golden Bough and worked on The Carmelite newspaper. She set the Linotype machine, handled the billing, and wrote everything from local gossip to interviews with celebrities to reviews of art, theater, books and music. She was not above giving herself a good review, and she published her poetry under her grandmother's name. Once when Newell had to be away for some days, she wrote him a poem, You Are Gone Now. Some years later, the German tenor Richard Tauber set her poem to music and had it published. In her spare time she hand-sewed aprons, patchwork pillows and tea linens and created bouquets of dried flowers for a local tea shop where she also waited on tables when needed. Newell laid brick, chopped and stacked wood, taught sculpture and woodworking, patched together all the odd jobs he could muster. They were tireless and constantly broke.
Stuart's theater work in Carmel brought her to the attention of Gilmore Brown's prestigious private theater, The Playbox, in Pasadena. She was invited there to appear as Masha in Chekhov's The Seagull. Opening night, casting directors from Paramount and Universal were in the audience. Both came backstage to arrange a screen test, both studios claimed her. A friend's agent was brought in to represent Stuart but was ineffectual. Finally the studios flipped a coin. Universal won the toss. Stuart felt she would be slumming in movies—she considered herself a serious actress in The Theater. But she and Newell had so struggled that she decided to sign a contract.
Stuart does not mention it in her book, but the Internet Movie Database includes her with thirty other players (including the cowboy star, Tom Mix) in a slapstick comedy, The Cohens and Kellys in Hollywood, A Behind-the-Scenes Farce. Produced by Universal in the spring of 1932, this is likely Gloria Stuart's first appearance before the camera. Stuart actually began her movie career by playing a decorous ingénue confronting her father's mistress, the sophisticated Kay Francis, in Street of Women, a Pre-Code fallen-women film ("Is love ever a sin?"). Stuart's second turn, again playing the ingénue, was in a football-hero movie, The All-American.
In early December, 1932, the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers announced that Gloria Stuart was one of fifteen new movie actresses "Most Likely to Succeed"—she was a WAMPAS Baby Star. Ginger Rogers, Mary Carlisle, Eleanor Holm were among the others.
Stuart's career advanced further when English director James Whale chose her for the glamour role in his ensemble cast (Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton, Lilian Bond, Ernest Thesiger, Eva Moore and Raymond Massey) for The Old Dark House. New York Times movie critic Mordaunt Hall wrote about her performance, "Gloria Stuart is both clever and charming as Mrs. Waverton, but her evening gown for such a scene is perhaps a trifle out of place. Be that as it may, it is a stunning creation."
Stuart was given her first co-starring role by director John Ford in her next film, Air Mail, playing opposite Pat O'Brien and Ralph Bellamy. One of Universal's publicity stunts was "Air Mailing" Stuart from Universal City to New York. It took four days and nights, the pilot having to come down out of storms along the way. For years, Stuart was afraid of flying. Of her performance in the movie, Mordaunt Hall wrote, "Gloria Stuart, who does so well in The Old Dark House, a picture now at the Rialto, makes the most of the part of the girl..."
That two Gloria Stuart movies were in theaters simultaneously became the rule rather than the exception in her early career. In 1932, her first year, Stuart had four films released, then nine in 1933, six in 1934. In 1935, Stuart was having a baby, so only four movies were released. Six movies followed in 1936 and so on. Quality suffered as studios cranked out the movies. After Air Mail, Mordaunt Hall's notices for Gloria Stuart came down to a few words. Laughter in Hell: "Gloria Stuart appears as Lorraine..."; Sweepings: "...played by the comely Gloria Stuart..."; Private Jones: "Gloria Stuart is charming..."
James Whale called Stuart back for just one scene in The Kiss Before the Mirror, but it was memorable. The critic Hall wrote, "There are those who may think that it is too bad to introduce as one of the players the dainty Gloria Stuart and have her killed off in the first episode of the narrative. Perhaps it is, but a pretty girl was needed for the part and Mr. Whale obviously did not wish to weaken his production by casting an incompetent actress or an unattractive one for this minor role."
After good notices in The Girl in 419, (Mordaunt Hall mentions "...the pleasing acting of the attractive Gloria Stuart), and Secret of the Blue Room ("Miss Stuart gives a pleasing performance."), James Whale cast Gloria Stuart opposite Claude Rains in The Invisible Man. Rains was a celebrated import from the London stage and this was his first Hollywood film. (Mordaunt Hall's review of Stuart's work was a temperate, "Miss Stuart also does well by her role.") The Invisible Man has also become a cult favorite.
With the exception of Stuart's films with Whale and Ford, the 1930s found her mostly in B+/A- movies with second-tier—sometimes third-tier—leading men. But once or twice a year, she was given first-tier movies and actors. In 1932 it was The Old Dark House, in 1933, The Invisible Man. In 1934, Universal loaned-out Stuart to Warner Brothers for Here Comes the Navy. Stuart co-starred with James Cagney and Pat O'Brien, the first of nine films featuring this male team. Frank S. Nugent wrote in the New York Times, "Supporting Mr. Cagney--and doing very creditable jobs, too--are Pat O'Brien, Gloria Stuart..." Scenes in the film were shot on the battleship, USS Arizona, which was sunk in the raid on Pearl Harbor. (Stuart seemed to be unaware of the connection.)
In 1935, another A film: Stuart was cast as Dick Powell's love interest in Busby Berkeley's, Gold Diggers of 1935. It was a musical, Stuart didn't dance or sing, and her New York Times notice was a knock: "Nor has Gloria Stuart anything of vast import to contribute in the position usually occupied by Ruby Keeler."
In that same year, Stuart left Universal and joined Twentieth Century-Fox. Her first assignment from the studio head, Darryl F. Zanuck, was in Professional Soldier. She was up against the child star Freddie Bartholomew and Academy Award winner Victor McLaglen (the year before, McLaglen had won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role in John Ford's The Informer). Frank S. Nugent commented at the end of his review: "There is a minor romance along the way between Gloria Stuart, the king's noble governess, and Michael Whalen, the professional soldier's part-time assistant, but no one should take it seriously."
In 1936, Stuart was cast in two A movies, one she relished and one she resented. John Ford again chose her as the leading lady to co-star with Warner Baxter in The Prisoner of Shark Island. Stuart found the role interesting and loved the script by close friend, Nunnally Johnson, although the New York Times critic, Frank S. Nugent, wrote coolly of her “…helpful performance…”. The film Stuart resented was with Shirley Temple—she was again playing second fiddle to a child star and Stuart wanted to work as a serious actress. Referring to Shirley Temple in Poor Little Rich Girl, Frank S. Nugent wrote in the New York Times, "Listing her supporting players hastily, then, before we forget them entirely, we might mention Miss Faye [and] Gloria Stuart…as having been permitted a scene or two while Miss Temple was out freshening her costume."
After The Prisoner of Shark Island, for whatever reason, Stuart's career began to decline. For the rest of 1936 and all of 1937, Zanuck placed Stuart in movies such as The Girl on the Front Page—Frank S. Nugent wrote in the New York Times, “Call it mediocre and extend your sympathies to the cast…” Reviewing Girl Overboard, Nugent begins, “In the definitive words of the currently popular threnode featured by a frog-voiced radio singer, Universal’s “Girl Overboard”…is ‘nuthin’ but a nuthin’,’ and a Class B nuthin’ at that.” There were more movies with titles such as The Lady Escapes, Life Begins in College and Change of Heart which did not even merit space in the New York Times movie review pages. In 1938, Zanuck again insisted Stuart support Shirley Temple. Of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Variety wrote: "Shirley Temple proves she's a great little artist in this one. The rest of it is synthetic and disappointing... More fitting title would be Rebecca of Radio City.
In 1938, Gloria Stuart was given her fourth role supporting a child star, this time Jane Withers in Keep Smiling. Two more slight films followed: in Time Out for Murder, her review said she was “…a pretty bill collector". Then in 1939, the last year in this phase of her career, in The Three Musketeers, Stuart was reduced to fourth billing. She came after Don Ameche, The Ritz Brothers and Binnie Barnes, and again Stuart's work was not reviewed. Next in Winner Take All, the Times critic wrote, “…the only thing worth seeing in the picture is Tony Martin trying to play a prizefighter. This is positively killing.”
It Could Happen to You, "a quasi-comedy" co-starring Stuart Erwin, finished the eight years. Again Stuart is not mentioned in the Times review. What did give her space in the movie pages the previous November was the story: "Gloria Stuart Quits Fox...Gloria Stuart has terminated her contract with Fox..." The truth of the matter was that Darryl Zanuck declined to renew Stuart's contract.
Although Stuart was as attentive to her husband, Gordon Newell, as she could be on her pressing schedule and supplied him with a yellow racing car and a studio complete with sculpting materials and tools, Newell wasn’t happy in Hollywood. The two finally agreed to an amicable separation, and Stuart paid for a Mexican divorce. She began to date.
In 1933 while relaxing on the set of Roman Scandals, Stuart met Arthur Sheekman, one of the writers on the movie. They were “instantly attracted to each other.” Stuart and Sheekman married in August, 1934, and their daughter, Sylvia (named after Princess Sylvia, Stuart’s character in their film), was born the following June.
Arthur Sheekman was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1901. He grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota where he began his writing career as a journalist, then moved to a newspaper in Chicago. In 1929 his column, "Keeping Up with the Times," was at the new Chicago Daily Times. When the Marx Brothers came to town touring in their show Animal Crackers, Sheekman interviewed them for his column. Sheekman amused Groucho, the two men found they had a rapport, and Groucho invited him to come to Hollywood to write for the brothers. Sheekman did and became Groucho’s closest friend, working on scripts and collaborating (often without credit) on Marx Brothers movies such as Monkey Business, Horse Feathers and Duck Soup. Sheekman also worked on Groucho’s 1932 radio show, Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel and ghost wrote Groucho's small jokey book, Beds. After Roman Scandals, Arthur collaborated on more comedies for Eddie Cantor, as well as for Shirley Temple and Joe E. Brown.
Ever since conversations in Carmel with the Lincoln Steffens-Ella Winter circle, Stuart was alert to political and social causes. As a consequence, in 1933 she was one of the first stars to work toward an actors’ union, and was one of thirty-nine new Class A members of the Screen Actors Guild. In June, 1936 she helped Paul Muni, Franchot Tone, Ernst Lubitsch, and Oscar Hammerstein II form the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League. That same year she and writer Dorothy Parker helped create the League to Support the Spanish Civil War Orphans. In 1938 as a member of the Hollywood Democratic Committee, Stuart was on the Executive Board of the California State Democratic Committee. After the war and as she followed her work in art, Stuart’s path led away from activism, but she never stopped supporting Democratic candidates, women’s causes, humanitarian efforts and wildlife and conservation funds all over the world.
In addition to Darryl F. Zanuck declining to renew her contract and no other studio offering to pick it up, Stuart realized her agents weren't returning her phone calls. Since Sheekman had completed his assignments at MGM, Stuart seized the opportunity to do something she had long wanted, take a trip around the world. Their daughter was given into her grandmother Alice’s keeping, and for four months Stuart and Sheekman toured Asia, Egypt and Italy, landed in France just as France and England declared war on Germany. The Sheekmans wanted to stay, Sheekman as a war correspondent, Stuart as any sort of volunteer, but their offers were not accepted. They caught the SS President Adams, the last American passenger ship crossing the Atlantic, and arrived in New York in September, 1939.
It was Stuart’s dream to be in the theater again and for Sheekman to write a hit play. They sent for their daughter. Stuart began reading for producers. Several times she came close, but she could not get a part on Broadway. Yet when it came to summer stock along the east coast, Stuart was welcomed into many theaters, among them Westboro (The Animal Kingdom), Ridgefield (The Night of January 16th), and elsewhere in Accent on Youth, Route 101, Mr. and Mrs. North, The Pursuit of Happiness and Sailor Beware. She was proudest of playing Emily to Thornton Wilder’s Stage Manager—under Wilder’s own direction—in Our Town at Amherst. For a subsequent opening night, Wilder sent Stuart a telegram, “Boundless best wishes to our splendid true Emily with the gratitude and friendship of Thornton Wilder.” But when the fall season for Broadway came around, still there were no roles for her.
For his part, Sheekman worked hard on a comic play, collaborating with Margaret Shane, a colleague from newspaper days. Their Mr. Big made it to Broadway but closed after seven performances. Then Sheekman collaborated with Ruth and Augustus Goetz (years later their play and screenplay, The Heiress, won prizes). Franklin Street closed out of town. Both of Sheekman's plays were staged by the otherwise highly successful director, George S. Kaufman.
After more than three years away, the Sheekmans returned to Hollywood.
Stuart and Sheekman settled into a villa in the Garden of Allah. In the heart of Hollywood, this compound of small apartments was show business’s home away from home. Eventually, most of the actors, directors, writers, producers and musicians on their way to and from somewhere stopped in.
After coming up with a bright idea for a movie for Danny Kaye (Wonder Man), Sheekman was back in business. Stuart asked her former movie agents to get her roles. All they could muster was B movies. The first, Here Comes Elmer, was a comedy with music starring Roy Rogers’ wife, Dale Evans. In The Whistler—an early directing credit of the horror specialist, William Castle—Stuart co-starred with Richard Dix. The main character in Enemy of Women was Hitler's devoted follower, Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels. Stuart was seventh in billing in that picture.
To pitch in for the war effort,Stuart took singing lessons and dancing lessons, then the USO teamed her with actress Hillary Brooke. The two blondes toured the country, visited hospitals, danced with servicemen in canteens, sold war bonds. Stuart wanted to go overseas, but Sheekman argued against it.
Ultimately Stuart became the The Garden of Allah's Den Mother. She collected guests’ wartime ration tickets for meat and butter, marketed judiciously, then created memorable dinners for friends. (One, inspired by the Sheekmans’ visit to Java, Stuart prepared a twenty-six dish rijsttafel for eighteen guests using the iceboxes, stoves and dishes in Robert Benchley's, Natalie Schafer's and Edwin Justus Mayer's neighboring villas.) 
By the fall of 1945, Sheekman had been assigned the screenplay of Blue Skies for Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. The Sheekmans decided to move from their furnished small three rooms to a furnished two-story house in the Hollywood hills. Stuart now had a place to garden and a live-in housekeeper to help with her parties.
Stuart took one more role, a comedy starring Joan Davis and Jack Oakie. Stuart doesn’t mention She Wrote the Book in her autobiography. She was sixth in billing and made to wear a redhead's wig.
Soon after this last movie, Stuart went to New York with Sheekman—Paramount sent him to see the new hit play Dream Girl with the expectation of his adapting it for the screen. While Sheekman was in conference with the playwright, Elmer Rice, a decorator friend took Stuart to the studio of a découpage artist. Stuart was immediately drawn to the form, decided it would be her new métier. Back in Los Angeles, she opened a small shop on decorators’ row, named it Décor, Ltd. With her assistant, Ruth Golden, Stuart designed and created découpaged lamps, mirrors, tables, chests and other one of a kind objets d'art. Her work quickly gained attention and her pieces were carried by Lord & Taylor in New York, Neiman Marcus in Dallas, Bullock’s in Pasadena and Gump’s in San Francisco. But after four years, “…the labor costs, the fine fine cutting, applying, finishing—sixteen coats of lacquer on the boxes, tables, screens—did me in.” Stuart closed the shop.
It was again time to have a house of their own. In Brentwood, Sheekman found an old craftsman-style house on an acre of ground that wanted tending. Stuart poured all her energy into the house and garden. She redesigned the house’s interior and supervised the remodeling, designed all the furniture and had it made. She planned the landscaping, included a green house for orchids, lath house for grafting fruit trees and an aviary so she and Sheekman could watch little birds at breakfast. When Stuart wasn't working in the garden, she was gold-leafing something beautiful for her dressing room. In Stuart’s words, “I became a whirling dervish of creative renovation.”
Early in 1954, visiting her daughter studying in Paris, Stuart went to the Jeu de Paume to see the Impressionist paintings. She had the same reaction as when she first saw découpage: she very much wanted to do it, too. The Sheekmans were on their way to Italy—at the time, American artists living abroad for at least eighteen months paid no taxes on income earned during the residency. Sheekman was still coasting on the reception of his adaptation of Call Me Madam. In the eight years since returning from New York, he had worked on fourteen movies, mostly writing the screenplays. Now he would try another play. As soon as all was settled in their house near Rapallo, Stuart bought painting materials, set up her easel and began to paint. The style that emerged was rather like Les Naïfs that she loved.
In the fall, Sheekman was offered a job in London. In London, Stuart was thwarted by the thin and sparse light and could not paint.  Sheekman’s proffered assignment fell through, so they recrossed the Channel to Brittany. There Stuart painted intently while Sheekman continued with his play. In August, 1955, when the tax-saving eighteen months were up, they flew to New York. Stuart found an apartment with good light and returned to painting while Sheekman talked to producers about his play, The Joker. The Joker was a comedy about a sorrowful comic. The fate of the play itself was sad, as it closed out of town. Once again, the Sheekmans returned to Hollywood.
They had to sell the craftsman house in Brentwood and rented an apartment near UCLA. Stuart painted in the bedroom downstairs, Sheekman typed in the bedroom upstairs. His finest work was coming, the screenplay of Some Came Running.
After seven years, Stuart was ready to show her work. In September, 1961, Victor Hammer gave Stuart a debut one-woman show at his prestigious Hammer Galleries. From the brochure: "Gloria Stuart’s...canvases are whimsical, filled with charm and fantasy, pictorially appealing and a delightful expression of her warm personality." Most of her forty canvases sold and Hammer wrote Stuart, "…I think that you can look upon your first show as a true success and I am sure that your next one will be even better."  Over the years, Stuart exhibited paintings in many shows, including the Bianchini Gallery in New York, the Simon Patrich Galleries and The Egg and the Eye in Los Angeles, the Galerie du Jonelle in Palm Springs and the Staircase Gallery in Beverly Hills. Stuart’s paintings are in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of New Mexico (Santa Fe), the Desert Museum of Palm Springs and the Belhaven Museum (Jackson, Mississippi).
Stuart had been painting for nearly thirty years when, as she noted in her book, “…the challenges to me of painting as a primitive had been wearing a little thin, and I had become fascinated by the complex art form of serigraphy—silk screening." Again, Stuart gathered all the materials, then studied with the serigrapher Evelyn Johnson. Stuart’s subjects “…ranged from large flower forms to the reflection of the château at Chenonceaux in its lake, a double image. I “pulled” images of kites flying against Mr. Fuji, and a series of serigraphs with my six-foot-tall harlequin doll and a beautiful nude redheaded model."
During the harrowing period of Sheekman's illness, Gloria discovered the art of bonsai. Like découpage, painting and serigraphy, Stuart wanted to do it, too. Every Sunday she took classes from Frank Nagata, colleague of John Naka, a bonsai master in Los Angeles. She joined Nagata-san’s bonsai club, Baiko-En, and became one of the first Anglo members of the California Bonsai Society. Eventually Stuart's collection numbered over one hundred miniature trees.
Although her leading lady days were sixty years behind her, Stuart never lost her passion for acting. She decided to give the movies one more try. She began with little more than walk-on parts--mostly in television-- but at least she was working again and in her words, making “a few bucks.” In 1982 came a major film, My Favorite Year, although her scene lasted moments and she had no lines. Stuart's role was a silver-haired dowager taking a turn around a dance floor with “Big Blue Eyes” Peter O'Toole. Several times in the days before filming, O’Toole practiced the dance with her and invited her to lunch in his trailer. She was thrilled.
Five years after Sheekman’s death, Ward Ritchie, a close friend of Stuart’s first husband, Gordon Newell, sent Stuart one of his books. Ward had become an internationally celebrated printer, book designer and printing historian. With his commercial Ward Ritchie Press and private Laguna Verde Imprenta press Ward produced distinguished books on the arts, poetry, cookery and the American West. Stuart invited him to dinner and they fell in love. Ward was seventy-eight and Stuart seventy-two.
The first time Stuart followed Ritchie into his printing studio and saw his 1839 English iron Albion hand press, she asked him to show her how it worked. Ritchie inked the type already set, “…hung the paper, and slowly turned the drum over the type. Lifting the paper off the drum, voilà! A printed page.” Once again Stuart stood before something new and fascinating and wanted to do it herself. After studying typesetting at the Women’s Workshop in Los Angeles, Stuart bought her own hand press, a Vandercook SP15. She established her own press, Imprenta Glorias.
Stuart’s next discovery was the boundlessly creative world of the artist’s book—Livres d’artistes. Stuart wrote, “An artist’s book is a different breed of cat. Its raison d’être is not the writing but how the writing is presented.” Stuart designed the books, wrote the text (often poetry), set the type—carefully selecting the style of type to match the subject, printed the pages, then embellished the pages with water colors, silk screen, découpage or all three. She created large artist’s books and books in miniature. Several of her books took her years.
Through Ritchie, Stuart was introduced to prestigious librarians and bibliophiles the world over. Imprenta Glorias books now can be found in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the Huntington Library, J. Paul Getty Museum, the Library of Congress, the Los Angeles Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Morgan Library & Museum, the New York Public Library, the Occidental College Library, the Princeton University library, the UCLA Clark Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum and numerous private collections.
Stuart and Ritchie were together for thirteen years until his death from pancreatic cancer in 1996.
May Day, 1996, Stuart came in from printing in her studio and checked her answering machine. "A female voice said she was calling from Lightstorm Entertainment (what’s that? I thought) about a movie to be shot on location, maybe Poland (I thought, why Poland?...) about the Titanic, directed by James Cameron (who is he?)."  The next afternoon, Cameron’s casting director, Mali Finn, came to Stuart’s house "…with her assistant, Emily Schweber, who was carrying a video camera. I’d never seen one… Mali and I talked while Emily filmed us." An hour after they left, a messenger from Lightstorm delivered a Titanic script. The next morning, Finn brought over Cameron and his video camera. Stuart wrote, "I was not the least bit nervous. I knew I would read Old Rose with the sympathy and tenderness that Cameron had intended…" Five days after Stuart's eighty-sixth birthday, Finn phoned again and asked, “Gloria, how would you like to be Old Rose?”
Most of Stuart’s filming was completed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, over about three weeks in early summer.  But the immensely complex movie, events connected with it and the consequences of Stuart’s newly elevated status in Hollywood filled the whole next year. Stuart filmed and made recordings for several documentaries, did more looping and dubbing for Cameron, received offers of scripts. "On April 7, 1997, the publicity blitz for Titanic kicked off… From that point on, the deluge of publicity never stopped."
In July, two days after her eighty-seventh birthday, on a sound stage at Twentieth Century Fox (where Stuart had worked so unhappily years before), Cameron re-shot the actress’s most famous scene in all her movies: in a long white nightgown, barefoot, slowly walking across a ship’s deck to the rail, climbing up and standing on the rail, with a little cry she throws her blue diamond necklace into the sea.
In November, 1997, Stuart was flown to London with the other principals of the film for Titanic's gala opening. When Prince Charles reached Stuart in the receiving line, "HRH held out his hand and asked, 'Did you get up at six-thirty every day to work?' 'No,' I answered, 'I got up to work every afternoon at four o'clock and worked all night!' He made a little moue, and moved on."
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated Stuart for "Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture—Titanic."
At 5:00 a.m. on February 10, 1998, the Academy Awards nominations were announced on radio and television. Gloria Stuart was among the names for Best Performance by an Actress in A Supporting Role. Stuart remembered, "..the phone began to ring, and I happily thought, 'Finally!' 
Sunday evening, March 8, 1998, Stuart’s union, the Screen Actors Guild, awarded Stuart their Founders Award. Then for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Stuart tied with Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential). For both awards, Stuart received a standing ovation from her peers. 
People magazine included Stuart on their list of "The 50 most beautiful people in the World in 1998." In the article, Titanic co-star Suzy Amis comments, "Stuart encompasses everything about what it is to be a well-lived woman…She's genuine, sassy, wise, funny and supportive." 
Also in May, Stuart was guest of honor at the Great Steamboat Race between the Belle of Louisville and the Delta Queen and then was Grand Marshal of the 1998 Kentucky Derby Festival’s Pegasus Parade.
Next, Stuart signed a contract with Little, Brown and Company to write her autobiography, I Just Kept Hoping. Stuart recorded memories onto tape, the countless hours were transcribed onto paper then Stuart composed the book herself, wishing she had more time.
In June, Stuart filmed a cameo appearance parodying Old Rose for the Hanson music video River.
Stuart made her debut at The Hollywood Bowl on July 19, 1998 reading the poem, Standing Stone, Paul McCartney’s oratorio for orchestra and chorus.
Stuart was asked by the producer and star, Kate Capshaw, to join the cast of The Love Letter. Mid-August, Stuart went on location to Rockport, Maine, and filmed her small but comic role.
In December, Stuart’s old friend the writer Fay Kanin invited Stuart to join her at The Kennedy Center Honors as guests of Jill and Lawrence Wilker. At the White House reception, when Stuart was introduced to President Clinton, the president let out a whoop and said to his wife, “Looky here, Hillary! It’s Old Rose from Titanic!”
In October 1999, Stuart’s native Santa Monica issued a Commendation signed by the mayor recognizing Gloria Stuart "…for many contributions world-wide and her inspirational message to always keep hoping. Dated this 16th day of October, 1999. Pam O’Connor, Mayor."
In September, 2000, Stuart unveiled her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. GLORIA STUART inlaid in brass lies in front of the old Pig ‘n Whistle, an apt placement because the café opened its doors when Stuart was in high school.
Even though once again reduced to minor roles, Stuart enjoyed making her last two movies. Both were for the German director, Wim Wenders. In 1999 Stuart worked on The Million Dollar Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. In 2004, Wenders found a spot for Stuart in his Land of Plenty, her final film (she was seventeenth in billing but all she had to do was lie in bed). Between Million Dollar Hotel and Land of Plenty, Stuart appeared in seven movies/episodes for television.
On June 19, 2010, Stuart was honored by the Screen Actors Guild for her years of service. At a luncheon, she was presented the Ralph Morgan Award by Titanic co-star Frances Fisher.
On July 22, 2010, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored Stuart’s career with a program featuring film clips and conversations between Stuart and film historian Leonard Maltin, portrait artist Don Bachardy and David S. Zeidberg, the Avery Director of the Huntington Library. One thousand people in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater were dazzled by the centenarian’s recall, charm and wit.
Stuart always was pleased to go before the camera for interviews on subjects as diverse as Groucho Marx, Shirley Temple, James Whale, horror movies and her good friends Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy 
Just after Ward Ritchie came back in her life, Stuart discovered she had breast cancer. It was caught early, she had a lumpectomy followed with radiation, then ignored it. Because Ritchie had nursed his late wife through lung cancer, Stuart hid her condition from him for twelve years. Stuart’s breast cancer did not return.
But twenty years later, when she was ninety-four, Stuart was diagnosed with lung cancer. She noted in her day book, "Localized cancer in lung to be treated w/radiation." Stuart had radiation, but in time the cancer returned and Stuart underwent a shorter course of radiation. The malignancy continued to spread, but slowly due to Stuart's age. She lived six years after her initial diagnosis.
Very late in her nineties, coping with macular degeneration in one eye and blindness from a stroke in the other, Stuart finally relinquished struggling with setting small type and handling the heavy press. She gave her Vandercook and sets of rare type to the Mills College Book Arts Program. Fine printer John Robinson took over printing for her and Stuart continued working on her artist's books almost every day to the end.
On the day of Stuart’s 100th birthday, James and Suzy Cameron hosted a multitude of Stuart’s family and friends at the ACE Gallery in Beverly Hills. There Stuart saw her paintings and serigraphs beautifully hung once more and many of her artist’s books, samples of her découpage and trees from her bonsai collection also decorated the gallery. There were speeches, festive toasts and an enormous birthday cake. 
And Stuart’s beloved Baiko-En bonsai club gave her a gala birthday party at the Huntington Library.
Gloria Stuart was devoted to her family and perhaps her most enduring legacy is in the creativity and zest for life she passed on to her four grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren.
Currently, Stuart’s grandson, Benjamin Stuart Thompson, is working on an intimate documentary, The Secret Life of Old Rose. The film explores Stuart's long acting career as well as her career as an artist, fine printer and bonsai enthusiast.
Gloria Stuart's great-granddaughter, Deborah B. Thompson, produced an e-book, Butterfly Summers: A Memoir of Gloria Stuart's Apprentice. Deborah was one of several artists who, over a period of years, assisted Stuart on Stuart's masterful artist’s book, Gloria Stuart’s Flight of Butterfly Kites. Thompson’s detailed observations of Stuart’s creative process—and how to print on Stuart’s hand press—make it a unique and valuable chronicle.
Gloria Stuart’s paintings are represented by the Papillon Gallery in Los Angeles and I Dated Oppenheimer, her last miniature artist’s book, is represented by Lorson’s Books and Prints. Pieces of Gloria Stuart’s découpage turn up in antique shops occasionally. Some of her trees are in the bonsai collection at the Huntington Library Gardens in San Marino, California. And studio photgraphs signed by Gloria Stuart still circulate among fans on the internet.
A few sources include Back Street in Stuart's filmography, stating her performance is uncredited. Since Stuart does not mention the film in her book, since uncredited performances are routinely included in the Internet Movie Database cast lists but Gloria Stuart is not listed in Back Street, this film is not included.
|1932||Street of Women||Archie Mayo||2nd|
|1932||The All-American||Russell Mack||1st|
|1932||The Old Dark House||James Whale||3rd|
|1932||Air Mail||John Ford||1st|
|1933||Laughter in Hell||Edward L. Cahn||2nd|
|1933||Private Jones||Russell Mack||1st|
|1933||The Kiss Before the Mirror||James Whale||2nd|
|1933||The Girl in 419||Alexander Hall, George Somnes||1st|
|1933||It's Great to Be Alive||Alfred L. Werker||2nd|
|1933||Secret of the Blue Room||Kurt Neumann||1st|
|1933||The Invisible Man||James Whale||1st|
|1933||Roman Scandals||Frank Tuttle||2nd|
|1934||I Like It That Way||Harry Lachman||1st|
|1934||I'll Tell the World||Edward Sedgwick||1st|
|1934||The Love Captive||Max Marcin||1st|
|1934||Here Comes the Navy||Lloyd Bacon||1st|
|1934||Gift of Gab||Karl Freund||1st|
|1935||Maybe It's Love||William McGann||1st|
|1935||Gold Diggers of 1935||Busby Berkeley||1st|
|1935||Professional Soldier||Tay Garnett||1st|
|1936||The Prisoner of Shark Island||John Ford||1st|
|1936||The Crime of Dr. Forbes||George Marshall||1st|
|1936||Poor Little Rich Girl||Irving Cummings||3rd|
|1936||36 Hours to Kill||Eugene Forde||1st|
|1936||The Girl on the Front Page||Harry Beaumont||1st|
|1936||Wanted: Jane Turner||Edward Killy||1st|
|1937||Girl Overboard||Sidney Salkow||1st|
|1937||The Lady Escapes||Eugene Forde||1st|
|1937||Life Begins in College||William A. Seiter||2nd|
|1938||Change of Heart||James Tinling||1st|
|1938||Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm||Allan Dwan||2nd|
|1938||Island in the Sky||Herbert I. Leeds||1st|
|1938||Keep Smiling||Herbert I. Leeds||2nd|
|1938||Time Out for Murder||H. Bruce Humberstone||1st|
|1938||The Lady Objects||Erle C. Kenton||1st|
|1939||The Three Musketeers||Allan Dwan||2nd|
|1939||Winner Take All||Otto Brower||1st|
|1939||It Could Happen to You||Alfred L. Werker||1st|
|1943||Here Comes Elmer||Joseph Santley||2nd|
|1944||The Whistler||William Castle||1st|
|1944||Enemy of Women||Alfred Zeisler||3rd|
|1946||She Wrote the Book||Charles Lamont||3rd|
|1982||My Favorite Year||Richard Benjamin||~|
|1984||Mass Appeal||Glenn Jordan||~|
|1999||The Love Letter||Peter Ho-Sun Chan||5th|
|2000||The Million Dollar Hotel||Wim Wenders||3rd|
|2004||Land of Plenty||Wim Wenders||~|
|Wikinews has related news: Titanic actress Gloria Stuart dies at age 100|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gloria Stuart.|