Sunday 23 March 2014

Jimmy Stewart's Porkchops Supreme

"A good cook is one of the necessities of life.  Being a bachelor in Hollywood, I soon tired of restaurant cooking and together with my friend, John Swope, set out to find the finest cook obtainable.  Eventually, we found her." (Jimmy Stewart)

Jimmy Stewart circa 1935 courtesy

While Jimmy Stewart is known as a movie star, he was also a soldier who fought in the Second World War and Vietnam.  Both his grandfathers were Civil War veterans and his father was a Spanish-American War and First World War veteran.  He accomplished a lot in his life.  Here is his story.

James Stewart was born in 1908 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, the third child of a hardware store owner father and a pianist mother.  His ethnicity was of Scottish Irish blood and his religious roots were Presbyterian. While Jimmy's father was not so interested in him pursuing music, his mother was.  He learned how to play the accordion as a youngster.

He loved to work on model airplanes and dreamed of being a pilot some day.  When he was stricken with scarlet fever in 1927, he followed the trans-Atlantic flight of Charles Lindbergh closely.  It would be prophetic that he would play Lindbergh 30 years later on the big screen.

Stewart stars as Lindbergh in 1957 courtesy

Jimmy also excelled at sports, earning him a place on the high school football team.  He enjoyed mechanical drawing and chemistry.  While Jimmy wanted to go to military school, his father steered him towards Princeton, and his father paid the bills.  It was at Princeton, in the Triangle Club, that Jimmy met a young actor named Henry Fonda.  After graduating, the two men headed to New York City where they debuted on the Broadway stage.  However, given it was the depression, every play folded.  Jimmy only worked for 3 months in the span of 2 years.

Struggling actors Stewart and Fonda shared a New York apartment in the early Thirties.  Fonda was hired first in Hollywood.  Then Stewart was spotted by an MGM scout on the opening night of his play Divided by Three.  The scout invited him to Hollywood for a screen test and Fonda encouraged him to go; Stewart passed the test and he came away with a seven year contract.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington circa 1939 courtesy

One of Jimmy's first big roles was in Frank Capra's "You Can't Take It With You".  Capra called Stewart "one of the best actors who's ever hit the screen".  The two would end up working together four times.   Next, Jimmy starred in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" which earned him his first Oscar nomination.  In 1940, he was featured in "The Shop Around the Corner" which was later remade as "She's Got Mail" starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.

Little Shop Around the Corner circa 1940 courtesy

The same year, Stewart shared billing with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn in "The Philadelphia Story".  Up against his buddy Henry Fonda, nominated for The Grapes of Wrath, Stewart won the Best Actor Oscar.  In 1946 came "It's a Wonderful Life", perhaps Stewart's most memorable film, which is still watched by many North Americans at Christmas.  Jimmy was to make four films with Alfred Hitchcock, my favourite being "Rear Window".

Stewart receives Croix de Guerre in 1944 courtesy

In between making pictures, Jimmy was able to serve in the military as a pilot, earning the Croix de Guerre in the Second World War.  He also flew at least one mission in Vietnam, and then retired in 1968.

An eternal bachelor, Jimmy married Gloria McClean in 1949 and became stepfather to her two sons.  Two years later, Gloria gave birth to twin girls.  The couple enjoyed a happy marriage for 45 years at which point Gloria passed away from cancer.

Jimmy Stewart's family circa 1950's courtesy

Jimmy Stewart's recipe was featured in the cookbook What Actors Eat When They Eat.  Here it is.


1 cup rice
4 pork chops
1 cup chopped celery
1 onion, diced
1 can tomato puree

Boil the rice.  Place to one side.  Brown pork chops on either side.  Remove the chops and add to the grease in the pan the celery and onion.  Brown the mixture and return the pork chops to the pan.  Place a mound of cooked rice on each chop and over this sprinkle the browned celery and onion.  Cover the entire mixture with a large can of tomato puree.  Bake in a moderate over (350 F) for one hour.

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