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Sep272010

At 100, 'Titanic' star Gloria Stuart lets go

Gloria Stuart, a beautiful star of many musicals and B-movies from Hollywood's heyday, died in her West Los Angeles home on Sept. 26. She is best known for her wonderful role in James Cameron's Titanic (1997), where she played the 101 year-old Rose. Stuart was nominated for an Academy Award for the part. She was diagnosed with lung cancer several years ago, and is survived by her daughter, four grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.

The Washington Post has written a very good piece on Gloria Stuart's life, including her busy years during the Great Depression.

Ms. Stuart appeared in more than 40 films during the 1930s that showcased her versatility. She was in the Busby Berkeley musical "Gold Diggers of 1935" as the love interest of crooner Dick Powell. She played the wife of the imprisoned Dr. Samuel Mudd in John Ford's "The Prisoner of Shark Island" (1936) opposite Warner Baxter, and she took supporting roles opposite Shirley Temple in "Poor Little Rich Girl" (1936) and "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" (1938).

Despite many efforts, Ms. Stuart said she had been unable to break through to A-list stardom and said she "got sick and tired of fighting." She added that her husband at the time, comedy writer Arthur Sheekman, discouraged her acting career and wanted her to stay home.

After appearing in Titanic, many new acting offers were thrown at Ms. Stuart, but she declined almost all of them. Most, she said, were just "sweet old lady" roles without much depth. She has appeared in General Hospital, Touched by an Angel, The Million Dollar Hotel, The Love Letter, and several other films and TV projects since 1998. She even wrote a memoir, "I Just Kept Hoping" (1999) where she talked about her oddly-paced career. 

 "When I graduated from Santa Monica High in 1927, I was voted the girl most likely to succeed. I didn't realize it would take so long."

Gloria Stuart celebrated her 100th birthday on July 4, 2010. She will be missed. 

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