Jimmy Stewart is considered one of the finest actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Stewart's family had deep military roots; both grandfathers had fought in the Civil War, and his father had served during both the Spanish-American War and World War I.
Before they were famous, many truly influential men and women started by serving their country in the US military or grew up in military families.

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After viewing the performance of Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, the small-town businessman who loses faith in the value of his life in the film, It's a Wonderful Life, President Harry S. Truman concluded, "If Bess and I had a son, we'd want him to be just like Jimmy Stewart."

American screen star James "Jimmy" Stewart is considered one of the finest actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood; he was named the third Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute. Born May 1908, Stewart became a versatile Hollywood icon who created screen personas for many films widely considered classics.

Just as illustrious, though not as well known, was Jimmy Stewart's military career. Stewart rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the United States Air Force Reserve. He was also the first major American movie star to wear a military uniform in World War II.

Stewart's family had deep military roots; both grandfathers had fought in the Civil War, and his father had served during both the Spanish-American War and World War I.

When World War II came, Jimmy Stewart chose to become a military flyer. Two years before the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Stewart already had his Private Pilot License and Commercial Pilot Certificate, and had accumulated over 400 hours of flying time.

In 1940, Stewart was drafted into the United States Army but was rejected for failing to meet height and weight requirements. Stewart subsequently enlisted in the Army Air Corps in March 1941and began pilot training in the USAAC. Stewart earned a commission as a second lieutenant in January, 1942.

Public appearances by Stewart at this time were limited, but included an all-star radio program called We Hold These Truths, dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights and a USAAC recruit film called Winning Your Wings, resulting in 150,000 new recruits.

In August 1943, Stewart was assigned to the 445th Bombardment Group at Sioux City AAB, Iowa, first as Operations Officer of the 703rd Bombardment Squadron and then as its commander, at the rank of Captain. In December, the 445th Bombardment Group flew its B-24 Liberator bombers to RAF Tibenham, England. While flying missions over Germany, Stewart was promoted to Major. In March 1944, he was transferred as group operations officer to the 453rd Bombardment Group, a new B-24 unit. To inspire his new group, Stewart flew as command pilot in the lead B-24 on missions deep into Nazi-occupied Europe.

In 1944, Stewart twice received the Distinguished Flying Cross for actions in combat and was awarded the Croix de Guerre. He also received the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.

In July 1944, after flying 20 combat missions, Stewart was made Chief of Staff of the 2nd Combat Bombardment Wing of the Eighth Air Force. Before the war ended, he was promoted to colonel, one of few Americans to rise from private to colonel in four years.

Stewart continued to play an active role in the United States Air Force Reserve after the war, achieving the rank of Brigadier General on July 23, 1959. He served as Air Force Reserve commander of Dobbins Air Reserve Base in the early 1950s. In 1966, Brigadier General James Stewart flew as a non-duty observer in a B-52 on a bombing mission during the Vietnam conflict. After 27 years of service, Stewart retired from the Air Force on May 31, 1968.

After World War II, Stewart considered going into the aviation industry if his film career didn't pan out. Upon Stewart's return to Hollywood in 1945, Stewart became one of the first independently contracted actors, and had more freedom to choose the roles he wished to play for the remainder of his career.

For his first film in five years, Stewart appeared in the Frank Capra production, It's a Wonderful Life.

Throughout his seven decades in Hollywood, Stewart's popular screen image was seen in such classics as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Philadelphia Story, Harvey, Rear Window, Rope and Vertigo. He is the most represented leading actor on the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) and AFI's 10 Top 10 lists. He is also the most represented leading actor on the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time list presented by Entertainment Weekly. As of 2007, 10 of his films had been inducted into the United States National Film Registry.

Stewart left his mark on a wide range of film genres, including westerns, suspense thrillers, family films, biographies and screwball comedies. He won many of the industry's highest honors including one Academy Award, and earned Lifetime Achievement awards from every major film organization. Jimmy Stewart died in 1997, leaving behind a legacy of classic performances.

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