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Gloria Stuart, actress in 'Titanic,' dies at 100

Glamorous 1930s star returned to Hollywood in her 80s to play the older Kate Winslet character in the blockbuster movie. She was 100.

"We were supposed to do a 50-50 profile shot," Ms. Stuart told the Bergen Record of Hackensack, N.J., in 1997. "I noticed that when the camera started, he was gradually moving me around so that my back was to the camera and his face was there. He didn't get that far, because I stopped and said, James, look what he's doing. And he [Rains] said, 'Oh, oh, oh, I'm so sorry, please forgive me, Miss Stuart.' We did another take, and he started doing it again, and I said, 'Mr. Rains!' Well, that was the last time he tried it."

Ms. Stuart appeared in more than 40 films during the 1930s that showcased her versatility. She was in the Busby Berkeley musical "Gold Diggers of 1935" as the love interest of crooner Dick Powell. She played the wife of the imprisoned Samuel Mudd in John Ford's "The Prisoner of Shark Island" (1936) opposite Warner Baxter, and she took supporting roles opposite Shirley Temple in "Poor Little Rich Girl" (1936) and "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" (1938).

Despite many efforts, Ms. Stuart said she had been unable to break through to A-list stardom and said she "got sick and tired of fighting." She added that her husband at the time, comedy writer Arthur Sheekman, discouraged her acting career and wanted her to stay home.

She had met Sheekman while appearing in the Eddie Cantor musical "Roman Scandals" (1933), and they married the next year, after Ms. Stuart was divorced from her first husband, sculptor Blair Gordon Newell.

Ms. Stuart didn't abandon acting entirely, taking small parts on television in the 1970s and in films including "My Favorite Year" (1982), where she had no lines but briefly danced with star Peter O'Toole. Meanwhile, Ms. Stuart began studying painting and had her first exhibit in 1961 at the Hammer Gallery in New York.

A few years after Sheekman's death in 1978, Ms. Stuart became reacquainted with master printer Ward Ritchie, a friend she hadn't seen in decades. He became her companion until his death in 1996 and taught her the art of letter-press printing, which became Ms. Stuart's new passion and career.

Gloria Frances Stewart was born July 4, 1910, in Santa Monica, Calif. She began acting when she was a child, putting on backyard performances with children in her neighborhood. After a brief acting career at the Pasadena Playhouse, she was recruited to Universal studios.

Besides her daughter from her second marriage, of Ojai, Calif., survivors include four grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

After the success of "Titanic," Ms. Stuart received new acting offers. Many, she said with resignation, were a variation on "sweet old ladies." She turned them all down, instead agreeing to eccentric parts such as a bag lady in the crime drama "The Million Dollar Hotel" (2000), directed by Wim Wenders.

Ms. Stuart wrote a memoir, "I Just Kept Hoping" (1999), in which she said of her late-blooming career, "When I graduated from Santa Monica High in 1927, I was voted the girl most likely to succeed. I didn't realize it would take so long."


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