Stewart, Jimmy: On Screen Death

Unlike other stars, Jimmy Stewart’s heroes very seldom died on screen. One could count his filmic deaths on one hand.

At times, the death was dictated by the narrative, such as the biopic 1954 The Glenn Miller Story, in which Stewart played the legendary musician, who died in a plane accident.

Stewart also died in the action-adventure, Malaya.

His last on-screen death was in the 1968 Western Bandolerro, in which he uncharacteristically played a villain.

More significantly, in a more typical Jimmy Stewart, it’s his romantic interest or wife who passes away.

For example, in three of his Westerns, it’s his female co-start who loses her life.

Marlene Dietrich’s salon singer died in Destry Rides Again, while protecting Stewart’s sheriff, thus saving his life in a shoot out.

In the quintessential 1950s Western, Broken Arrow, it’s Stewart’s Native American wife, played by Debra Paget, who gets killed.

A similar situation occurred in the Western The Far Country.

One of the most memorable on screen deaths in a Stewart movie is in The Mortal Storm, in which Margaret Sullavan (the star’s favorite leading lady) gets shot and dies in his arms, just as they are about to cross the border  to safety and freedom.  Stewart then carries her body across the border.

In the melodrama Ziegfeld Girl, the film that made Lana Turner a star, it’s Turner’s show girl and Stewart’s love interest who takes her own life.

And who can forget the death of Kim Novak’s Judy at the end of Hitchcock’s 1958 masterpiece, Vertigo, when he drags her up on the stairs of the tower, and she accidentally dies.