Indiana museum celebrates Jimmy Stewart’s birthday
Indiana’s Jimmy Stewart Museum will celebrate its native son’s 111th birthday with a party on May 19.
Stewart was born in the Indiana County town on May 20, 1908. He died on July 2, 1997.
The event also recognizes the 24th anniversary of the museum, located at 835 Philadelphia St.
Stewart’s iconic films will provide the special matinee line-up from Friday through Sunday, says Brian Croft, accountant/manager. Longtime theater president Timothy F. Harley recently retired from his position.
The museum theater will offer showings of “Harvey” at 1 p.m. May 17; “It’s a Wonderful Life” at 1 p.m. on May 18; and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” at 1 p.m. on May 19.
The May 19 celebration will begin at 12:30 p.m. with a birthday singalong and cake.
On Sunday only, admission to the museum will be free, with donations accepted, Croft says.
Also featured will be a show of antique autos the Antique Automobile Club of America, Punxsutawney Chapter, owns, curbside on Philadelphia Street, from noon-4 p.m.
At 1 p.m. the museum will host the opening reception for an exhibition of local fiber artists in a show entitled “Stewart in Stitches — The Quilted Jimmy.”
Simple Pleasures will provide musical accompaniment.
Depending on weather, Croft says, the annual celebration can attract a crowd.
Film fans so enjoy visiting the museum, he adds, that daily matinees were added in July.
“We typically get 5,000-6,000 visitors a year,” Croft says. Others combine a visit with other area tourist attractions, from the Flight 93 National Memorial to the Johnstown Flood Museum to planned trips to Pittsburgh, Croft says.
Memory lives on
Over the years, Stewart’s twin daughters, Kelly and Judy, now 68, have visited the museum, along with Stewart’s friend, comedian Rich Little.
Little recorded the crosswalk messages for intersections in Stewart’s hometown, using his impersonation of the late star’s voice.
The museum showcases artifacts from Stewart’s family, his home office in California, and the front door from his Beverly Hills home. It includes his favorite booth from Chasen’s restaurant, a popular hot spot for celebrities during Stewart’s era. The museum bought the booth when the restaurant closed in 1995, Croft says.
Visitors can see memorabilia, costumes and scripts from his film career.
Just as important to many visitors are Stewart’s military uniforms and medals, on display at the museum.
A World War II bomber pilot, Stewart ended the war with 20 combat missions, according to military.com
He remained in the USAF Reserve and was promoted to brigadier general on July 23, 1959. He retired on May 31, 1968.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .