In this blog series, I’ll describe my impressions of various movie stars I’ve met over the years. Hope you enjoy reading about your favorites, and that you’ll be inspired to check out my Hollywood novel Dream Factory, which is available in both paperback and electronic formats through Amazon.com.
I was blessed to have met one of the most talented and versatile of Hollywood’s actors — James Stewart (Jimmy Stewart) — twice.
The first time I encountered Jimmy in person was at a book signing for his delightful book Jimmy Stewart and His Poems. I have to confess that I was annoyed at how slowly the line to get into the bookstore was moving, but when I discovered the reason why, I didn’t mind the wait as much. Jimmy took the time to engage in genuine conversations with everyone who asked him to autograph a copy of his book. If people asked him questions, he responded. If people told him a story, he listened. Everyone simply had to wait their turn.
That was fair, I thought to myself. Jimmy had a reputation for doing what was right by people, and his patience and engagement with his fans was just further evidence of that.
Finally, it was my turn. I offered my book to Jimmy and exchanged a few pleasantries with him while he signed it. Then I told him that I enjoyed writing poetry myself and he encouraged me to keep writing. He was just like I’d hoped he would be: a kind and even sweet gentleman. I wished I would have had some long questions to ask him or a good story to tell him so I could linger a bit longer with him, but I didn’t, so I moved on. Over the years since, I’ve often re-read his poems and smiled when I recalled his encouragement for me to keep writing my own.
Later, I met Jimmy at the University of Virginia’s film festival. That time I was prepared with a couple of good questions to ask him. But the woman in line in front of me stole my thunder by boldly kissing him on the cheek without warning! Jimmy looked surprised and then laughed. Those of us in the crowd around him applauded. I had to give her credit for a great idea, but regretted that I hadn’t thought of it first!
I was to encounter Jimmy one final time in person. On a trip to California one spring, my mom and I attended a worship service at Jimmy’s longtime church, Beverly Hills Presbyterian. We saw him in the congregation but didn’t want to disturb his worship by approaching him. Instead, we simply exchanged smiles with him from afar. What an appropriate place for me to last see Jimmy in person! His faith guided his entire career, and God used that career to inspire countless people through his films.