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Gloria Stuart, a leading lady of the 1930s who enjoyed a career revival for her performance as Old Rose in 1997’s “Titanic,” died of respiratory faiure in her sleep at her Los Angeles home on Sunday. She was 100.
The spry, engaging actress became the oldest Oscar nominee when, at age 88, she was nominated as best supporting actress for her performance, for which she needed old-age makeup, as a Titanic survivor who returns to the site of the disaster.
As the older version of the character played by Kate Winslet (who was nominated for best actress), the two became the first performers to be nominated for playing the same character in the same film.
In July, Stuart — who once joked that James Cameron cast her because he needed an actress who was “still viable, not alcoholic, rheumatic or falling down” — was feted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to mark her 100th birthday.
With a delighted Stuart in attendance, the occasion included clips from many of the films in which she starred during the ’30s, including the James Whale horror tales “The Old Dark House” and “The Invisible Man,” such musicals as “Gold Diggers of 1935,” and Shirley Temple vehicles “Poor Little Rich Girl” and “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.”
Stuart, born in Santa Monica on July 4, 1910, first acted in college while at UC Berkeley and went on to small stage productions before signing a contract with Universal. She eventually moved to Fox, returned to the stage and then, in her mid-40s, gave up acting for painting.
In the 1970s, Stuart resumed her acting career, appearing in TV movies like “In the Glitter Palace” (1977) and later dancing with Peter O’Toole in the 1982 feature “My Favorite Year.”
After the spotlight that “Titanic” brought her, she appeared in such TV series as “Touched by Angel,” “General Hospital” and “Miracles.” Her last film appearance was in Wim Wenders’ 2004 drama “Land of Plenty.”
One of the first actors to join SAG, she served on the guild’s national board during its early years.
“Not everyone receives the recognition they fully deserve in their lifetime, but the guild was among those fortunate to know what we had before she was gone,” SAG national president Ken Howard said. “Gloria was an exceptional personality in every aspect, a delightful human being, and we take this loss as hard as we would that of any close family member, which she was. In every way, she exemplified the professional artist. She was a lover of life and a fighter.”
In June, SAG’s Hollywood Division presented her with its highest honor, the Ralph Morgan Award, named after the guild’s first president, with whom she served. In August, SAG’s national board bestowed a special tribute on the actress.
An early marriage to Blair Gordon Newell ended in divorce. She met her second husband, screenwriter Arthur Sheekman, on the set of 1933’s “Roman Scandals”; they married the following year and were together until his death in 1978.
She is survived by a daughter, Sylvia Vaughn Thompson, four grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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