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1910 – 2010
Gloria Stuart (née Gloria Frances Stewart) was born in Santa Monica, CA on July 4, 1910. While Stuart is best known for her prolific career as a Hollywood actress, she also pursued other creative passions, including painting and printmaking.
Stuart graduated from Santa Monica High School and attended the University of California, Berkeley, where she met her first husband, the sculptor Gordon Newell. Settling in Carmel, California in 1930, she and Mr. Newell joined a bohemian community that included the photographer Edward Weston and the journalist Lincoln Steffens. Ms. Stuart acted at the Golden Bough Theater and wrote for a weekly newspaper.
In 1932 Stuart returned to Los Angeles, where she had been offered a role at the prestigious Pasadena Playhouse, very shortly thereafter she signed a seven-year contract with Universal. Stuart enjoyed a successful acting career with roles in a total of 46 films from 1932 to 1946, starring alongside Boris Karloff, Dick Powell, and James Cagney among others. However in 1946, Stuart moved away from the film world. She would later reemerge in the most widely known and critically acclaimed role of her career, as the older “Rose Calvert” in James Cameron’s Titanic.
It was only after leaving Hollywood that Stuart taught herself to paint. Early on the artist Moses Soyer saw her work and said in no uncertain terms, “Gloria, never take a lesson!” In 1961 she had her first one-woman show, at Hammer Galleries in New York. Following the great success of that first exhibition of her work, Stuart had shows in Palm Springs at Gallery du Jonelle (then de Poliolo Gallery) in 1967, and the Staircase Gallery in Beverly Hills. She also participated in numerous group shows.
Stuart was a consummate artist, and in addition to painting, created serigraphs and decoupage. After the passing of her husband of 44 years, Arthur Sheekman, Stuart renewed a friendship with the world-renowned printer, Ward Ritchie. At his encouragment, she took up printing, bought a press, and through Imprenta Glorias, poured her considerable and original talents into hand-printed artists’ books and broadsides.
Stuart’s work is in collections around the world, including those of the Metropolitan Museum, the Getty Museum, the Morgan Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Bibliotheque Nationale, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others.
She was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild and helped found the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League, an early antifascist organization.
Gloria Stuart died on September 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, CA.