Friday, November 9, 2007
Mr. Stewart, your table is waiting
Actor and regular nice guy Jimmy Stewart preferred this table at Chasen’s, the once-popular celebrity hideout in Beverly Hills. It’s not immediately known, however, if this was where the lanky star sat during his bachelor party in 1949 when two midgets dressed in diapers entertained the crowd.
But the booth where Stewart and his wife, the former Gloria Hatrick, regularly dined on Thursday evenings can be found in a museum dedicated to the late movie star in his hometown of Indiana, Pa. To add to its collection of everything Jimmy, The Jimmy Stewart Museum purchased the booth after the restaurant closed in 1995.
Located on the fourth floor of Indiana’s public library, the museum has a fantastic collection of black-and-white photographs that were shot on the sets of some of his films in a career that spanned seven decades. One especially cool photo shows a young Stewart wearing a suit with a loosen tie from the 1939 movie, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” about a junior senator who tries to clean up corruption in the nation’s capitol. The gray, sweat-stained hat Mr. Stewart wore in seven films, including “The Man from Laramie,” is so special that it is kept in a Plexiglass box.
Also on display is a granite stone that marks the May 20, 1908, birthplace of James Maitland Stewart. The museum was given the marker when it was recovered years after it was stolen from the actual site where the Stewart family home once stood about a block down Philadelphia Street, Indiana’s main drag. “There’s another one there now,” my tour guide said today.
Stewart is still cool 10 years after his death, especially in the town otherwise famous for having Indiana University of Pennsylvania. So much so that nearly 10,000 stop by his museum each year.