“Titanic” actress Gloria Stuart has died. She was 100 years old.
An acclaimed painter and fine printer as well as actress, Stuart had garnered an impressive film career in the 1930s before more or less retiring in the ’40s to return to the stage. She didn’t pursue theater for long, though, before dedicating herself instead to family and fine art full-time.
She remained quiet on the film front for almost three decades, putting together gallery shows of her artwork and pursuing other creative outlets, before resurfacing on television. In 1975, she appeared in the TV movie “The Legend of Lizzie Borden,” with “Bewitched” star Elizabeth Montgomery. Once back in the public eye, she kept busy throughout the ’70s and ’80s with a mix of television and film roles, including “Murder, She Wrote,” and “My Favorite Year.” But it would be James Cameron’s “Titanic” in 1997 that would become her most famous role, arriving when the actress was 87 years old. She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the part, the oldest actor or actress so honored.
The Academy honored Stuart for her work in film and as one of the founding members of the Screen Actors Guild in July, throwing her a 100th birthday party in L.A. Though her last screen appearance was in 2004 in Wim Wender’s “Land of Plenty,” Stuart proved at another birthday party thrown for her that month that she hadn’t fully retired, debuting pages from her current work in progress, a children’s book called “Flight of Butterfly.”
My memories of Stuart began in the theater watching “Titanic,” but they don’t end there. As strong an impression as she made as “Old Rose,” it was the interviews she did afterward as herself that stick. Watching her with these interviewers, you saw exactly why she could portray a woman who had done everything, because it became obvious that that was the sort of woman she was too. Quick-witted, charming, and a bit of a gentle wise-guy, Stuart made you wish that when you get old, you would be just like her. She had great stories, because she made her life an adventure, taking opportunities when they came, and not taking herself too seriously. She obviously allowed herself to have a lot of fun in life, and was still doing it apparently right up until she died. That’s an amazing gift, and I admired her for it.
Oscars.org, “An Academy Centennial Celebration with Gloria Stuart.”
Irene Lacher, “‘Titanic’ Actress Gloria Stuart Celebrates her 100th Birthday.” LATimes.com
StarPulse.com, “‘Titanic’ Star Gloria Stuart Dies at 100.”
Heather Campbell, “Gloria Stuart 1910-2010.” Imdb.com