One of the most legendary movie stars in the history of American cinema, James "Jimmy" Stewart starred in some of Hollywood's beloved classic films, including Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), The Philadelphia Story (1940), It's a Wonderful Life (1946), and Alfred Hitchcock's Rope (1948), Rear Window (1954), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), and Vertigo (1958). He often played what the New York Times called "decent, idealistic, and naive small-town Americans."
Stewart's first successes in Hollywood were a result of his collaboration with Frank Capra; together they made You Can't Take it With You (1938) and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (for which Stewart received his first of 5 Academy Award Nominations for Best Actor). He won his first and only Oscar in 1941 for The Philadelphia Story. A little while later, with 28 feature films under his belt, James Stewart enlisted in the US Army. He was the first major American movie star to wear a military uniform in World War II.
After returning from war in 1945 (and refusing any publicity in connection with his service), Stewart kept working in Hollywood as a freelancer. He was drawn to darker roles, which his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Mann, and John Ford allowed him to explore. Concurrently, Stewart's military career continued until 1968, by which time he had been appointed a Brigadier General in the United States Air Force Reserve - the highest military rank ever achieved by an American entertainer.
James Stewart passed away in 1997 at the age of 89. President Bill Clinton eulogized the actor, saying that American had lost a "national treasure... a great actor, a gentleman, and a patriot."
Lisa Carol Fremont
Like her costar Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly remains an icon of American cinema - though she only starred in 10 films over the course of her career. After graduating from high school, young Grace Kelly moved to New York City to embark on an acting career, much to the dismay of her wealthy parents. After being cast in a number of small television and theater roles, Kelly's big break came when she earned a role in the Gary Cooper western High Noon (1952). After that, she starred alongside Clark Gable and Ava Gardner in Mogambo (1953). Kelly first worked with Alfred Hitchcock, who became a professional mentor to her, on Dial M For Murder (1954). Hitchcock went on to direct Kelly in her celebrated turns in Rear Window (1954) and To Catch a Thief (1955). She won an Academy Award for her role in The Country Girl (1954).
Grace Kelly famously retired from acting in April of 1956 when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco, with whom she had three children. Princess Grace died in 1982 after suffering from injuries due to an automobile accident.
Ritter, a native New Yorker, was known for playing comedic, sharp-tongued characters. Her big break came in 1947 with a small, uncredited role in Miracle on 34th Street. She was nominated for an Oscar 6 times, making her one of the three most nominated actresses (along with Deborah Kerr and Glenn Close) who never actually won.
Wendell Corey was a theater actor who was working steadily on Broadway until producer Hal Wallis (best known for Casablanca) persuaded him to move to Los Angeles and start working in film. He worked steadily in film and television until his death. He was also a conservative politician who was elected to the Santa Monica City Council in 1965.
Mr. Lars Thorwald
Best known for playing television lawmen, the titular Perry Mason and Ironside, Raymond Burr began his acting career as a touring performer of a repertory theatre group in Toronto. Burr performed in over 30 plays as part of the Pasadena Playhouse, a school of theatre arts that has trained numerous prominent stars, like Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman and Angela Bassett. A celebrated role in the 1944 Broadway production of The Duke in Darkness led to a contract with RKO Radio Pictures.
Between 1946 and 1957, Burr was credited in over 50 motion pictures, often playing the "heavy" in film noir classics like Red Light (1950), M (American remake, 1951), and Crime of Passion (1957). His notable turn as District Attorney R. Frank Marlowe in the 1951 drama A Place in the Sun, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift, eventually led Burr to prominent roles on the right side of the law. For nine years (1957-1966), he played criminal defense lawyer Perry Mason, garnering three consecutive Emmy nominations, of which he won two, in 1959 and 1961. For eight years (1967-1975), he starred as paralyzed San Francisco Chief of Detectives Robert T. Ironside in the NBC hit Ironside, playing the first disabled character in a crime drama. Burr received six Emmy nods for his work.
In the 1980s and 90s, Burr reprised his role as Perry Mason for 26 TV movies centered on his beloved character. Burr was also a well-known philanthropist. He died in 1993 at the age of 76.
Rear Window Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Rear Window is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.