Movie Stars: Stewart, Jimmy–Most Commercially Popular Films

For ten years, Jimmy Stewart was on the list of the Top Ten Most Popular Stars, an annual poll based on the rankings of actors by U.S. distributors and movie owners.

His initial appearance on the list was in 1950, occupying the fifth place, a result of making two commercially successful Westerns, Broken Arrow and Winchester 73.

In 1955, Stewart occupied the top position, a function of his appearances in the Hitchcock thriller, Rear Window and the biopic, The Glenn Miller Story.

Stewart dropped out of the Top Ten list in 1960.

He was placed on the list only once more, in 1965, occupying eighth place, after appearing in the old-fashioned smash hit, Shenondoah.


Stewart’s most commercially popular films at the box-office (by year, in chronological order):

The Stratton Story, 1949, $4.0 million

The Greatest Show on Earth, 1952, $14.0

Rear Window, 1954, 5.7

The Glenn Miller Story, 1954, 7.0

The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1956, 4.1

Vertigo, 1958, 4.0

Anatomy of Murder, 1959, 5.5

Mr. Hobbes, 1962, 4.0

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, 1962, 4.0

How the West Was Won, 1962, $12.15

Shenondoah, 1965, $ 7.75

The Cheyenne Social Club, 1970, $5.25

The Shootist, 1976, $ 5.9



Half of Jimmy Stewart’s greatest commercial hits were in the 1950s, which represented the best decade of his career.

Three of the 13 hits were directed by Hitchcock.

Two of the 13 features were directed by John Ford.

Two of the 13 films were bio-pictures, The Stratton Story in 1949, and The Glenn Miller Story in 1954

Three of the films starred or co-starred John Wayne.

Stewart played a secondary, supporting role (the sad clown) in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth, which won the 1952 Best Picture Oscar.

Stewart received the Best Actor Oscar nomination for only one of these 12 films, Preminger’s Anatomy of Murder, in 1959

Stewart’s Best Actor Oscar Award (for The Philadelphia Story) and other nominations (always in the lead category) were in other films, indicating the disparity between artistic quality and commercial success.