Jimmy Stewart’s Wartime ‘Mission’

New book details his role as a bomber commander

Oct. 26, 2016
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As the star of It’s a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Jimmy Stewart was one of the most beloved actors from Hollywood’s golden age. With an image inseparable from his true self, it was no surprise that the dutiful, unassuming Stewart volunteered for service after Pearl Harbor was bombed.

In Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe, Robert Matzen goes in depth on the actor’s wartime experience. Pouring over published accounts and conducting interviews, Matzen assembled a detail account of Major James Stewart. As commander of a bomber wing operating over Nazi-occupied Europe, Stewart was considered a “lucky” for his “precise flying” and “smart decisions large and small.” Already in his mid-30s, Stewart possessed great maturity than many Army Air Force officers lesser than him in years and experience.

The forward by Leonard Maltin puts Stewart’s wartime service in context: “He never lost the humility and reliability that made him a star in the first place, but there is no question that his experiences during World War II deepened and enriched his acting.”

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