Gloria Stuart, a well-respected actress and one of the remaining stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood, passed away yesterday at the age of 100.
Most modern audiences, of course, know Stuart from her phenomenal performance as the older Rose DeWitt Bukater, whose narration frames 1997’s epic romance Titanic. Indeed, Stuart’s performance is the anchor of that film (pun not intended), and at age 87, she steals the movie right from underneath her younger co-stars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
But Stuart’s career dates back to the dawn of talking pictures, with her debut in 1932’s Street of Women with Kay Francis and Roland Young. Her star rose considerably the following year, when she played Claude Rains’ fiance, Flora, in The Invisible Man (Rains’ American debut).
Stuart gained further notice as Dick Powell’s love interest in Gold Diggers of 1935, in which Powell sang “I’m Going Shopping with You” to her.
Other notable performances include 1933’s Roman Scandals with Eddie Cantor (featuring one of the first screen appearances of comedienne Lucille Ball), 1934’s Here Comes the Navy with James Cagney, and 1936’s Poor Little Rich Girl and 1938’s Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, both with Shirley Temple. But finding good roles became more difficult as the 30s drew to a close, and Stuart retired from Hollywood, making only sporadic film appearances throughout her later years.
While Stuart never became the huge star she probably should have been, considering her immense charm and screen presence, her tour de force performance in Titanic finally brought the accolades that had eluded her throughout her early career. She was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, though she lost to Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential.
A wonderful spirit and a very talented woman, Gloria Stuart will most definitely be missed.