My Heroes: Warriors and Peacemakers: James Stewart

I recently realized that all of my favorite heroes were either warriors or peacemakers. I thought that was a bit odd. Yeah, I know, a lot about me is more than a bit odd, but in this case I dug a little deeper to see if my heroes had attributes in common.

I found several, but will wait to share them until after I’ve mentioned all my heroes. In that way, if you wish, you’ll be able to discover them on your own and may well find several that I missed.

I was originally going to list 5 or 6 of my heroes in the same post, but when I saw the length of the write-up about my first hero I decided the post would be way too long that way, so I plan to create a different post about each.

My heroes aren’t listed in any particular order.

My first hero is James Stewart. Even though audiences often called him “Jimmy”, he preferred to be called “James”. He is one of my favorite actors. (In fact, I just saw him last night in two of my favorite movies, “The Philadelphia Story”—for which he received his only competitive Oscar—and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”—which he thought was a more Oscar-worthy performance. I saw them in a double-feature at the beautiful Stanford Theater in downtown Palo Alto, California as part of a wonderful birthday present from My Beloved. I turn 55 in a couple of days.

Anyway, back to Mr. Stewart. Even though he often portrayed heroic characters, that is not why he is one of my heroes. Although he had already received an Academy Award and was a successful actor and could easily have avoided combat when the U.S. entered WWII, Mr. Stewart thought it was his patriotic duty to fight the Nazi’s. He fought to be placed in combat units when he kept being assigned to Public Relations and other positions located in the U.S. earlier in the war.

He eventually succeeded in joining the fight and flew many combat missions deep into Nazi-occupied Europe. His bravery earned him many awards, including two Distinguished Flying Crosses for actions in combat, and the Croix de Guerre. He also received the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters. (Source:

But all that is only a part of the reason that he is one of my heroes. A key part is his humility. He rarely spoke about his war time exploits, and when the war ended and the movie studios wanted to use his wartime service to help re-launch his career, he refused to let them do it—a heroic stand in itself in my opinion.

Bonus facts:

He and Henry Fonda were very close friends. After they both got married and settled down from the playboy lives they had led earlier in their careers, one of the favorite past-times of these two Hollywood legends was building model planes together.
They were on opposite ends of the political spectrum and wisely chose to never have political discussions with each other. This is especially ironic because their characters in the movie The Cheyenne Social Club” often argued about politics. Mr. Stewart said that in real life they never had an argument about anything.

He was stationed at Moffett Field when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

He only married once and stayed with her until her death late in their lives—a relatively rare feat for Hollywood stars. He had adopted two step sons from his wife’s earlier marriage, and James and his wife had twin daughters. As an adopted stepson myself, he gets bonus points from me on that score too. One of his adopted sons was killed in Vietnam.


About russtowne

My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren. I manage a wealth management firm that I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of approximately 60 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children. In addition to my family, friends, investing, and writing, my passions include reading, watching classic movies, experiencing waves crashing on rocky shores, hiking in ancient redwood forests, and the beauty of kindness and nature.
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12 Responses to My Heroes: Warriors and Peacemakers: James Stewart

  1. Wow, I always thought he was humble but that’s all I knew…thanks for the bio!

    • russtowne says:

      Yes, the more I learn about the man, the more impressed I become. Thank you for your comment, Diana.


      • My pleasure! Can’t wait to hear about your other heroes… One of my heroes is Tekumseh 🙂

        • russtowne says:

          Cool! I’d love to hear more about why Tecumseh is one of your heroes. I’d intendended to ask who everyone’s heroes were and why at the end of this post, but I’ll hopefully remember to do it at the end of my post regarding Nelson Mandela, Alvin York, or Mother Teresa, et al..


          • Yeah I like Al too. He’s the French guy right?? 😉

            • russtowne says:

              HAHAHA! I’m not saying. But since you’re so curious, let’s just assume he is a French guy for a moment and then here is a quiz for you:

              What et the French guy?

              I’m glad I “met” you, Diana. I love our communications! You’re a crack-up–and no, I don’t mean a plumber…


  2. Andrea Kelly says:

    I have always loved Jimmy Stewart! What an interesting life, and a truly great man – I didn’t know most of this, thank you for sharing! Looking forward to reading about the rest 🙂

  3. manty67 says:

    I was first introduced to the brilliant acting talents of James Stewart, one Xmas as a child. As a family we sat down and watched the Movie “What a Wonderful Life” and now thanks to Video’s and DVD’s I have been able to introduce my children to the same brilliant Movie, and has become a must see during the Christmas period. However, thank you for sharing your knowledge on James as I didn’t know any of the information that you wrote about. This just adds to the love of James Stewart and my must see Christmas Movie. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    PS. Happy Birthday for a couple of days time

  4. Cathy Ulrich says:

    I have always loved James Stewart’s energy but didn’t know much about him. Thanks for sharing this, Russ. And Happy Birthday!


    • russtowne says:

      Thank you, Cathy. It was truly my pleasure. I love sharing information about people who I believe have/had many positive attributes.and make/made a positive difference in the world.


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