The films I am talking about in the title are “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” and “Stagecoach”. Are there any characteristic features of Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” that rocketed him to permanent stardom? Are there any characteristic features of John Wayne in “Stagecoach” that rocketed him to permanent stardom? These two people were famous actors of Hollywood’s Golden Age. They were both gifted actors, but that is not the only reason why they became so famous stars. they each also had different characteristics which made them stand out on the screen.

Jimmy Stewart was born in a small town town in Pennsylvania. This town is also where he grew up. When he was older, he wanted to attend the United States Naval Academy. However, his father insisted him to attend Princeton University instead, which he did. It was there that he majored in architecture. It was while he was in Princeton, however, that he became involved in Princeton’s drama and music clubs. He eventually decided to pursue acting rather than architecture. After graduating from Princeton, Stewart joined the University Players. This was a summer stock company for college students. It was here that he met his lifelong friend and fellow actor, James Fonda. After that summer, the two of them moved to New York City to further pursue their careers. Stewart found a few small Broadway roles between 1932 and 1934, before Fonda found success in film and moved to Hollywood. Stewart eventually stared the leading role in romantic comedy “Next Time We Love”. HE then partnered up for the first time with director Frank Capra in “You Can’t Take It With You” in 1938. They also partnered for other classics, including “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Stewart excelled in the roles where he played honest men in times of trial and hardships because he was an honest, good-hearted man who lived a mostly clean lifestyle. Because of this, he could convey a bit of relatability to the audience, as his characters struggled with life, but eventually decide to do the right thing, which any person would do or want to do in a similar situation.

John Wayne was born in 1907 in Iowa. However, was raised mainly in California. He was rejected from the United States Naval Academy. He also attended USC on a football scholarship, however, he lost the scholarship due to a bodysurfing accident. He was forced to find employment after that. Wayne found work acting for Fox Films in small parts. This lead to his first leading role in “The Big Trail” in 1930. This film was a huge flop, but it did raise Wayne’s profile, nevertheless. He appeared in several B movies, which mainly included westerns. He appeared in so many B movies that he eventually lost count himself! In 1939, Wayne’s career took a major turn when he was cast as the second billed star in “Stagecoach”, directed by John Ford. Wayne’s acting ability allowed him to play ultimately good men that many other men in the audience could connect with. Being able to connect with the audience while being a “giant” while he was onscreen was rare, and it allowed him to become an American legend.