Thursday, August 16, 2007

USPS Honors Jimmy Stewart with New Postage Stamp

James Stewart, Hollywood's quintessential everyman, is being honored by the U.S. Postal Service with his own postage stamp. The stamp will be the 13th in the "Legends of Hollywood" series, which also includes Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Alfred Hitchcock, Lucille Ball and John Wayne. Ceremonies will be held on Friday, August 17th at Universal Studios in Hollywood, as well as the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, Pennsylvania.

Stewart starred in some of the most loved and respected films in Hollywood history, including:

It's a Wonderful Life
Rear Window
The Philadelphia Story
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Anatomy of a Murder

... among many others.

Here's the official press release from the USPS:

Washington, DC — Tomorrow, the U.S. Postal Service salutes a World War II veteran who rose from the rank of private to retire as a brigadier general — one of the highest ranks ever achieved by a Hollywood actor. During World War II, as a B-24 combat pilot and commander, James Stewart flew 20 missions over Germany including one over Berlin. His first movie after the war was It's a Wonderful Life.

As the 13th stamp in the “Legends of Hollywood” series, the 41-cent First-Class James Stewart commemorative stamp honors James Stewart, whose naturalistic acting style made the characters he played seem “real.” The sheet of 20 stamps are available nationwide Friday, August 17, and will be dedicated at 10:30 a.m. PT at Universal Studios Hollywood at The Globe Theatre inside the theme park in Universal City, CA. Similar ceremonies will take place at the Jimmy Stewart Museum in Stewart's hometown of Indiana, PA, and in the Marquette, MI, courthouse where Stewart was filmed during the making of Anatomy of a Murder (1959).

“It's our privilege to pay tribute to James Stewart, a fantastic actor, a great gentleman, a brave soldier, and an inspirational human being who truly led a wonderful life,” said Vice Chairman, U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors Alan C. Kessler, who will dedicate the stamp in Universal City. “Jimmy Stewart knew how to touch us. Now it's time for our Nation to show how we feel.”

Joining Kessler in dedicating the stamp will be Stewart's children, Kelly Stewart Harcourt, Judy Stewart and Michael McLean.

“Our family is so honored by this stamp,” said Kelley Stewart Harcourt. “I'm sure my father would be humbled as well. He received many awards throughout his life and I'm sure he would view this as one of the most cherished.”

Also participating will be actor Robert Wagner, a longtime friend of Stewart, who will speak to his philanthropic endeavors.

“Jimmy Stewart gave so much to this country through his dedicated military service, to his craft as an actor, and to his family as a loving husband and devoted father,” said Wagner. “He also gave back to the community. For a quarter of a century, the Jimmy Stewart Annual Relay Marathon benefited the St. John's Child and Family Development Center, as well as other programs and services at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica. From 1982 to 2006, the event raised more than $9 million.”

Stewart's role as a World War II decorated bomber pilot will be highlighted by a former intelligence officer who served with Stewart during the war.

“Jimmy Stewart was famous in another world and volunteered for wartime duty directly from civilian life,” said Starr Smith, who introduced Stewart to Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite during the war and recently authored a book on Stewart. “He was a man who trained hard and served well — a man who, from the beginning, wanted desperately to join the hunt in the cause of freedom. He was a man who led and inspired his fellow airmen in battle, won the admiration and respect of his superiors, and, in the end, was like many others — a good man who fought the good fight.”

President and CEO of Heartland Truly Moving Pictures, Jeffrey Sparks, will speak about Stewart's film accomplishments.

“On turning 80, Stewart was asked how he wanted to be remembered; he replied, ‘As someone who believed in hard work and love of country, love of family and love of community.’ Jimmy Stewart succeeded in living his life as he wished to be remembered — a lesson warranting emulation by all of us. Clarence the wingless angel spoke to George Bailey about how each of our lives touches so many others — and, when we are no longer around, we leave an awful hole. I would contend that Jimmy Stewart left no such hole. He filled the hearts of a nation — leaving behind far more than he took.”

Art director Phil Jordan of Falls Church, VA, designed the stamp using a portrait of Stewart by Drew Struzan of Pasadena, CA. Struzan based his work on a photograph taken during the filming of The Stratton Story. The painting on the selvage, also by Struzan, shows Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, the 1939 film for which he received his first Academy Award nomination for “best actor.”

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