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James Maitland Stewart (May 20, 1908 – July 2, 1997) was an American actor and military officer. Known for his distinctive drawl and everyman screen persona, Stewart had a film career that spanned over 55 years and 80 films. With the strong morality he portrayed both on and off the screen, Stewart epitomized the "American ideal" in twentieth-century United States. In 1999, the American Film Institute (AFI) ranked him third on its list of the greatest American male actors. Born and raised in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Stewart started acting while studying at Princeton University. After graduating in 1932, he began a career as a stage actor, appearing on Broadway and in summer stock productions. In 1935, he signed a film contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). The studio did not see leading man material in Stewart, but after three years of supporting roles and being loaned out to other studios, he had his big breakthrough in Frank Capra's ensemble comedy You Can't Take It with You (1938). The following year, Stewart garnered his first of five Academy Award (Oscar) nomination for his portrayal of an idealized and virtuous man who becomes a senator in Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). He won his only Academy Award for Best Actor for his work in the screwball comedy The Philadelphia Story (1940), which also starred Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

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