Academy honours 100-year-old Titanic actress

2010-07-22 15:05

Gloria Stuart lives like her days are numbered, and little wonder. The Oscar-nominated actress, best known as Old Rose in the 1997 blockbuster Titanic, turned 100 on July 4.

“I would say I don’t notice the difference between 100 and, say, 90,” Stuart said while sitting in the bonsai-lined garden of her home in the Brentwood district of Los Angeles.

“You’re still frail, feeble, and full of you-know-what,” she continued, with a laugh.

Truth is, the only thing obviously frail about Stuart is her voice, which is just a few decibels above a whisper.

And while she moves a little slower than some, Stuart said she still has many things to do and places to go. She prints books. She paints. She gardens.

Tonight, she is to be honoured by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills for a film career spanning eight decades.

Her first contract was with Universal, where she quickly became a favourite of the legendary James Whale, who would direct two of Stuart’s most highly regarded movies, “The Old Dark House” (1932) opposite Boris Karloff and the hit “The Invisible Man” (1933) opposite Claude Rains.

The problem was that most of the rest of what Universal give Stuart “wasn’t garbage, but it wasn’t first-rate, second-rate, third-rate. Maybe fourth-rate,” she recalled.

“And I was looking at the studio next door, and there was Ann Harding, Claudette Colbert, Marlene Dietrich at Paramount.

And then, at RKO, was Katharine Hepburn and so many others. And I was there at Universal, with a horse.”

She’d eventually move over to 20th Century Fox, where her output included a blast of films, including the Shirley Temple favourite “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” (1938).

But Stuart’s star didn’t rise as high as she hoped, and, by the mid 1940s, one of the first members of the Screen Actors Guild wouldn’t act again on the screen for some 40 years.

“I didn’t get to be Greta Garbo,” she said, smiling. “Terrible. A terrible blow.

It took me a long time to get over that. But I’m over that.”

Then again, Garbo didn’t get to be in “Titanic,” which broke box-office records and earned Stuart, then 87, her first Oscar nomination.

Of all her films, Stuart is most proud of the James Cameron epic, and that, of all her roles, she most relates with the character of Old Rose – the 100-year-old woman with the heart of a young lover.

“I think that’s the important thing,” Stuart said. “If you’re full of love, admiration, appreciation of the beautiful things there are in this life, you have it made, really. And I have it made.”

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.