James “Jimmy” Stewart, Actor, Architect, Air Force Pilot, Brigadier General, and Musician: Madeline’s Monthly Musical Tips Blog/Article for December 2016
Our blog and Radio show celebrates the life and work of Jimmy Stewart, Actor, Architect, Air Force pilot, Brigadier General, husband, father, and musician. Included are three articles on the power of classical music for education and healing. Remember to start your day right by listening to Classical and Baroque music. No one is immune from the power of music. Our article of the month is “It’s All About Discipline” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D., DTM.
Radio Show Feature Question for December 2016: How did Classical Music play a part of James “Jimmy” Stewart’s life as an actor, architect, Air Force pilot, Brigadier General, husband and father, and what musical instruments did he play?
James “Jimmy” Maitland Stewart was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania on May 20, 1908 to Alexander and Elizabeth Jackson Stewart at their home. Latter, Jimmy’s two younger sisters, Mary “Doddie” and Virginia “Ginny” were born.
Jimmy’s father Alexander “Alex” Stewart was a graduate of Princeton University (1898), served in the Spanish-American War and World War I. The Stewart family “owned the local hardware store”. The J.M. Stewart & Company was founded in 1848 and had been in the Stewart family for three generations. In 1905, “Alex purchased a share of the business from his father, James Maitland Stewart.” In 1923 Alex “assumed sole ownership”. Alex expected his son Jimmy to go into the family hardware store business when he grew up.
Elizabeth “Bessie” Ruth Jackson, Jimmy’s mother, was from Apollo, Pennsylvania. She was a gifted pianist and was a graduate of Wilson College in Franklin County. She was described “as a lady of regal bearing, dignified, and quite proper.”
Elizabeth’s family, “the Jackson’s could trace their ancestry back to 1773”. One of her relatives “served in the Revolutionary War”. Col. Samuel Jackson, her father, “served during the Civil War”. When she married Alexander Stewart on December 19, 1906 she was thirty-one years old.
“The Stewart’s had a close-knit and highly principled family life. They held hands and said grace at every meal.” Family time was spent playing music and reading together. Jimmy’s mom, Elizabeth passed her musical gifts “on to her children”. Jimmy and Ginny were pianists and Doddie was a violinist.
When a customer paid a debt to Alex Stewart by giving him an accordion, he gave it first to Ginny. She was to little to play it so he then gave the accordion to Jimmy so it “did not go to waste”.
Jimmy’s parents, Alex and Bessie, sang in the choir of the Calvary Presbyterian Church in Indiana.
Jimmy at the age of 10, after school, came to help his father in the family hardware store. “Jimmy’s happy childhood left a lasting impression. “Jimmy learned to work hard and became self-confident, self-possessed, and knew who he was. He also became a member of the boy scouts.
Jimmy as a child built model airplanes launching them “from the roof of the house”. He built “homemade radios” and sold them. Jimmy and his siblings presented plays and magic shows “to the neighborhood children inspired by the various artifacts his father sent home from France during World War I.” Their plays were presented in the basement of the family home.
Jimmy attended “The Model School” through ninth grade and then attended “Mercersburg Academy” in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania in 1923. He was on the track team, played football, “was art editor for the year book KARUX, and a member of the John Marshall Literary Society.” He was also “in the choir and glee club, and the Stoney Batter drama club” where his first role on stage was “in “The Frog Prince”. Jimmy “was elected to play his accordion in the school’s Marshall Orchestra.”
Summer time during school break, Jimmy worked in Indiana, Pennsylvania for a construction company loading bricks and on highway road construction painting “ lines on the roads”.
During the next two summers he worked “ as an assistant with his friend, Bill Neff, a professional magician. He and Neff played the Pennsylvania-Chautauqua circuit and Stewart’s job was to play his accordion during any “awkward” moments.”
Jimmy read about Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 flight. Jimmy would 30 years later portray Charles Lindbergh’s life.
In 1928 Jimmy Stewart graduated high school from Mercersburg Academy. He wanted to go to the United States Naval Academy and become a pilot. His father insisted that Jimmy attend his alma mater, Princeton University.
That fall of 1928 Jimmy began his studies at Princeton University and joined the Triangle Club playing his accordion “even though there was a ban on freshmen appearing in any Triangle Club productions.” Josh Logan, future director-producer, said Jimmy was “really good on the accordion. That was his greatest talent. We really admired his accordion playing. Nice fellow.”
Jimmy appeared “in their production of The Golden Dog”.
The next year the Triangle Club asked him to perform “So Beats My Heart for You ” on his accordion as a solo. During Jimmy’s junior year “he and Josh Logan performed together in a production of The Tiger Smiles” and in “two other productions during his senior year.” These productions took place at the Triangle Club and in Princeton’s Theater Intime.
In 1929 Jimmy Stewart “became a member of Princeton’s Charter Club” which “sponsored weekend jazz parties with … headliners Bix Beiderbecke, Bud Freeman, Jimmy Dorsey and Charles Teagarden. …He was becoming more and more involved in performing at this time.”
In 1929 was the Great Depression. Jimmy’s father’s store, “J.M. Stewart & Company” burned to the ground. Alex Stewart was rebuilding the store. Jimmy’s sister, Mary was accepted at Carnegie Tech art program and Virginia was accepted to attend Vassar.
James Stewart graduating Princeton University in 1932 with his architecture degree. His architectural project was designing an airport. “Stewart questioned whether he would find employment as an architect.”
Josh Logan asked Jimmy Stewart, “two weeks after graduation to join the University Players, a summer stock group based in West Falmouth on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and he accepted. Logan wanted him to play his accordion in the tea room next to the theater and to do some small walk-on parts.” That summer he worked in the theater learning the theater business. He also met Henry Fonda who became his best friend and roommate. Jimmy decided to continue acting and not to go for his masters at Princeton. His father was not happy about Jimmy’s decision.
Jimmy Stewart made his Broadway debut in New York City in 1932 in “Carrie Nation”. Times were hard. Both Jimmy and his roommate Henry Fonda were struggling. In 1934 his stage roles included “Page Miss Glory” and Sidney Howard’s “Yellow Jacket”.
During Jimmy’s opening night in “Divide by Three” Bill Grady, MGM scout, Irving Berlin and Moss Hart, composers attended the New York show. MGM asked Jimmy to do a screen test and he agreed. On April 1935 he signed a contract at MGM for seven years. He was to be paid $350 a week. He acted in “Navy Blue and Gold” 1937. Frank Capra, director was impressed and said; “I think he’s probably the best actor who’s ever hit the screen.”
In 1936 Jimmy Stewart was in the show “Born to Dance” with music by Cole Porter. Jimmy sang the song “Easy To Love”.
Jimmy Stewart’s movies “You Can’t Take it With You” (1938), “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” (1939). In the 1941 movie “Pot of Gold” Jimmy Stewart sings and plays the harmonica beautifully.
From 1935- 1939, Jimmy Stewart was in 29 movies.
When Jimmy Stewart became successful as an actor he took flying lessons. In 1935 he earned his pilot’s license. He then purchased his first airplane and earned his commercial pilot’s license in 1938. “He often flew cross country to visit his parents in Pennsylvania, navigating by the railroad tracks.”
In 1940 Jimmy Stewart won the Oscar for “The Philadelphia Story”. Both sides of his family had served in the military and Jimmy Stewart wanted to join. As a flier he and Hoagy Carmichael, composer, and musician “saw the need to train war pilots.”
James Stewart enlisted on March 22, 1941 during WW11as a private in the Army applying “for Air Corps commission and pilot rating as both a college graduate and a licensed commercial pilot.” On January 19, 1942 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He took advanced training He was the first American movie star to join and was 32 years old. He was training others, “promoted to captain, and was appointed squadron commander.” When he heard he would be “taken off flying status and assigned to making training films or selling war bonds”, Jimmy Stewart spoke to his “commander who understood the situation and recommended Stewart to the commander of the 445 Bombardment Group.” Colonel Terrill was “so impressed” with Stewart that he put Stewart in command of the Squadron. He flew many “harrowing and dangerous combat missions”.
Stewart “was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, The Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm.” By the end of WW11 he had become a Colonel. “After the war he remained with the US Air Force Reserves and was promoted to Brigadier General in 1959.” In 1968 he retired “from the Air Force and received the Distinguished Service Medal.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Stewart
After WW11, Frank Capra, ex-Colonel, friend and director asked Jimmy Stewart to play George Bailey in “It’s A Wonderful Life” (1946). Jimmy was later asked what was his favorite film? He replied, “It’s A Wonderful Life”.
In 1948, James Stewart went to the home of Gary and Rocky Cooper for dinner and met thirty-one year old Gloria Hatrick McLean. “She was beautiful, outgoing, well educated and she liked to play golf. She loved animals and the outdoors, and she was not an actress.” http://www.jimmy.org/about-jimmy-biography/
Jimmy Stewart said, “I could tell right off that she was a thoroughbred. For me it had been love at first sight. She was the kind of a girl I had always dreamed of. The kind you associate with open country, cooking stew and not fainting because it was made of cut-up squirrels. She’d look at home on a sailboat or a raft; in a graceful swing from a tree branch into the swimming pool.”
They married on August 9, 1949. Jimmy Stewart was 41 years old.
“Gloria had two children, Ronald then five and Michael, three, from a previous marriage.” The Stewarts added to their family on May 7, 1951when their twin daughters “Kelly and Judy were born”.
“Ronald, a commissioned Marine officer, was killed in Vietnam in June of 1969, just two months after Jimmy and Gloria had visited him while they were on a USO tour. In February 1994, Jimmy lost his beloved wife of nearly 45 years, Gloria.” http://www.jimmy.org/about-jimmy-biography/
“Their son Michael says they “were raised with that small-town Christian Presbyterian ethic that nobody owes you a living. If you have bad breaks, get up and move on. That was the attitude of both my parents, and it never changed.” http://www.jimmy.org/about-jimmy-biography/
The James M. Stewart Foundation was established on Jimmy Stewart’s 87th birthday on May 20, 1995 to “preserve, promote and enshrine the accomplishments of James M. Stewart, actor, soldier, civic leader, and world citizen…”. The foundation was established in his hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania and began “The James Stewart Museum” which “is located within walking distance of his birth place, the home in which he grew up, and the former location of his father’s hardware store.”
On July 2, 1997 James “Jimmy” Stewart passed away in Beverly Hills, California. He was 89 years of age. He was an actor, Architect, Air Force pilot, Brigadier General, husband, father, and life long musician. James Stewart was one of the most beloved actors of all time.
It’s All About Discipline! By Madeline Frank, Ph.D., DTM
What is the key to your success? True discipline gives you the freedom to do your best and be your best self.
One of my favorite musical instruments is the bagpipe. Many years ago on a bright beautiful sunny day, my family and I heard a gorgeous version of Amazing Grace played by a bagpiper on shore, as our family was departing Halifax, Nova Scotia by ship. We continued to hear Amazing Grace as it carried over 3 miles away from shore.
In newspapers around the world it was announced on August 22, 2016 that a 61-year-old bagpiper had died from “hypersensitivity pneumonitis- bagpipe lung”. It was caused by bacteria from “the moist environment” in his bagpipes which developed into mold and fungi. For the prior seven years he suffered “shortness of breath, a dry cough”, and could “walk only about 65 feet”.
Disinfecting every part of his bagpipe everyday would have prevented his death. It’s all about discipline!
This is a wake up call for all musicians, bagpipers, woodwind players, and brass players to clean their instrument thoroughly daily. ” Cleanliness is next to godliness.”
It’s all involved with discipline. “The discipline of preparation. Two friends of mine are Firemen. They have their fire equipment at the ready, so within minutes they are ready for a fire. They practice for fires in gear with their air pack to be ready within 90 seconds. Once you develop discipline it becomes part of you, a positive good habit.
True disciple gives you the freedom to do your best and be your best self, allowing yourself to achieve success. For example: cleaning up after your self and keeping your work place organized.
My husband and I went to a local restaurant to grab a quick lunch. The waitress, who we had never seen before, brought our food out and took an extra 5 minutes to bring out the ketchup after our burgers had been served. By the time she finally brought the ketchup the burger was cold. Shortly after, we were in a rush to get back to work. The restaurant was almost empty, and we had to look for the waitress to get the bill. This waitress won’t last long! She does not have the discipline for the job!
In our lives, we need to be disciplined in both our mind and in our body to keep free of mental clutter and /or physical clutter.
Just like you brush your teeth twice a day to cut down on bacteria that feed over your body and we bathe everyday. This is all about our daily discipline.
As a child of 8, I remember my violin teacher, Mr. William Whitson teaching me to wash my hands with soap and water before playing my violin. After practicing Mr. Whitson taught me to wipe my violin with a clean cotton cloth to remove the rosin from all surfaces of the violin, including the strings, fingerboard, and bridge. Rosin is pinesap from a tree that in its clean state is rubbed onto the hair of the violin bow to grip the strings making them speak. Mr. Whitson also had me wipe the rosin off the wood part of my bow. He wanted to protect the instrument from harm from the sticky rosin. He taught each of his students the discipline of taking care of their instruments. It’s all about discipline.
Many years ago when I was a student in New York City, I loaned out my violin to a friend when her instrument was being repaired. When she brought my violin back after a week, it was covered with sticky rosin all over it! It took me several hours to clean up my violin. My ex- friend had not been taught the discipline of taking care of her violin. She should have brought my violin back to me cleaner then when I had given it to her!
For over 30 years, I have taught my string students, the discipline of cleaning their instruments.
Part of discipline is teaching our kids to wash their hands and dry them after using the bathroom. Harvard Medical School says, “In studies, washing hands with soap and water for 30 seconds bacterial counts drop by close to 99.9%.” They also say, “It takes about 20 seconds to dry your hands well if you’re using paper or cloth towels. It’s all about training and discipline!
What new discipline will you start today?
Take the one-day challenge!
Below are five suggestions: Try one of them!
1) You have a large pile of papers on your desk. Put the papers in order, file the informational documents in the right folders, and pay the bills according to the due dates on them.
2) Right after cooking dinner, put the pots and pans in the sink to soak with soap and warm water. This way you can clean up quickly and easily after you eat.
3) Eat one scoop of ice cream instead of two.
4) Stop smoking cigarettes for one day.
5) As you run out of certain foods in your refrigerator, write down each food needed on a pad of paper. Then take your list to the grocery store.
Remember, discipline is following through on some goal you have and not finding excuses to not finish the task. Don’t procrastinate. To be disciplined you have to take the first step. Don’t just talk about it. Do it. Take your first step. Then take your second step and follow through till you complete what you started. It’s all about discipline! (C) 2016 Madeline Frank
Contact Madeline Frank for your next speaking engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Health 101: 7 Little Known Benefits Of Listening To Music” (Nov. 2, 2016) by Amna Hashmi from the Tribune.com.pk.
In choosing the right Classical music it can “1) Relieve stress, 2) It can put you in a good mood, 3) It can help you heal, 4) Music can be motivating during a work out, 5) It can improve your sleep, 6) It’s a performance enhancer when studying and 7) Music sticks with you ….gaining a sense of yourself, formation of your identity and who you are now.”
Suzuki Instructor Devin Arrington: Classical Music Training Can Break Down Barriers (Nov. 1, 2016) by Sharon Kilarski from the Epoch Times. Devin Arrington, a Suzuki violin instructor, says, “As students learn to play the violin, they are grasping valuable life skills.
In addition to patience.. classical music training helps develop “sensitivity in children—in the best sense of the word. Not sensitive to one’s own feelings, but in listening to others. It helps develop compassion. Focus and listening intensely are developed skills, as well as attention to detail, in order to create something beautiful.”
Suzuki ‘s philosophy from his book “Nurtured by Love”: “I just want to make good citizens. If a child hears good music from the day of his birth, and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline, and endurance. He gets a beautiful heart.”
“Unlocking The Aging Mind With Music Musical Minds Choir Aims To Give Members Hope” (Oct. 21, 2016) by Tiffany Anthony from the Orlando.com/news. Ms. Anthony said, “Music has a lot of power– it can inspire emotion, healing, and in some cases, even unlock the mind, according to experts.” Kevin Harris, choir director said, “If the song is important to them, then it is important to us. The coolest part about this choir is, once we start spending time together, making music, you can’t tell who has dementia and who doesn’t.”
“The Secret of Teaching Science & Math Through Music” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D. is now available in book form, and newly updated as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, or iBook: com(Kindle)
“Musical Notes On Math” by Dr. Madeline Frank teaches your child fractions and decimals, the fun way, through the rhythm of music, Winner of the Parent To Parent Adding Wisdom Award is now available in book form, newly updated as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, or iBook.
Tips on how to use “Musical Notes On Math” https://www.madelinefrankviola.com/musical-notes-on-math/
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Dr. Madeline Frank’s book “Leadership on a Shoestring Budget” is now available through amazon.com. Click on the following Amazon.com link to order your copy of “Leadership On A Shoestring Budget” is available as an e-book on Kindle or in book form.
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Wishing you and your family a happy Chanukah and a merry Christmas from Your Non-Invasive Medicine Music Expert, Madeline
For over 25 years, Dr. Madeline Frank has helped children and adults overcome problems through Classical music. Madeline Frank, Ph.D., DTM is an award winning teacher, author, researcher, speaker and concert artist. She has found a scientific link between studying and/or listening to musical instruments and academic and societal success. Madeline Frank earned her Bachelor and Master’s degree from the Juilliard School of Music. Her education has included scholarships at the Juilliard School, Indiana University, and the University of Cincinnati and she has a violin performance diploma from the North Carolina School of the Arts. (C) 2016 Madeline Frank.