After a long, storied acting career, centenarian Gloria Stuart died after being diagnosed with lung cancer in her Los Angeles home, according to EW.com. The actress staged a comeback at 88 years old and will be best remembered to this generation as the older Rose DeWitt Bukater in 1997’s “Titanic”. Her turn as a Titanic survivor bookended the movie, providing the premise for a movie-length flashback. It was also her Academy Award-nominated performance that gave the film a degree of dignity and reflection in the midst of a terrible tragedy. She was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild.
Stuart appeared in numerous films in the ’30s, such as the 1939 mystery “It Could Happen to You”, starring as a crime-solving wife. She also appeared in the 1939 version of “The Three Musketeers” as Queen Anne alongside Don Ameche. Her starring roles of the ’30s included 1932′s “The Old Dark House,” 1933′s “The Invisible Man,” 1935’s “Gold Diggers of 1935” and 1936′s “Poor Little Rich Girl”. But according to NPR, she had lost interest in a lot of her own work.
“I didn’t want to play girl reporters, girl detectives, girl lawyers, rich girls, poor girls – those parts, they were not challenging,” Stuart told NPR. “I had been playing Chekhov and Shakespeare and Pirandello, and you know. I was very snobbish, and I wanted to go to the New York theater. And of course when I got to New York and had quit film, they didn’t want a movie actress. Movie actresses were trash.”
Deciding she didn’t want to play these kinds of parts, she stayed out of the movie business for decades, only returning to dance with Peter O’Toole in the 1982 comedy “My Favorite Year.” But later on, she took the role in “Titanic” that impressed audiences so much in the ’90s.
I enjoyed James Cameron’s “Titanic,” like many people my age, but though I found the main story to be interesting and the action exciting, I felt that Stuart captured the feelings, the sadness, and the memory of the real tragedy very elegantly. There are no longer living survivors from the disaster, as of the loss of Elizabeth Gladys Millvina Dean in May 2009. With Stuart’s passing, it does feel very much as though those who lived through that era are leaving us. The era itself long ago passed, but we have both history and the efforts of artists like Stuart to remind us of that fateful night long ago.
Trey Graham, “On The Manifold Other Accomplishments Of ‘Titanic’ Actress Gloria Stuart” NPR
Chris Nashawaty, “Gloria Stuart: Remembering the ‘Titanic’ grande dame” EW.com
IMDB.com, “Gloria Stuart”