Actress Gloria Stuart dies

Gloria Stuart with Boris Karloff in THE OLD DARK HOUSE
Gloria Stuart with Boris Karloff in THE OLD DARK HOUSE

Gloria Stuart, who earned an Oscar nomination at the age of 87 for TITANIC,  died Sunday night, September 26. The 100-year-old actress had been diagnosed with lung cancer five years ago, according to the Los Angeles Times. Although Stuart is most well known to modern audiences for appearing as the older version of Rose (played in flashback by Kate Winslet) in James Cameron’s blockbuster about the ill-fated ocean liner, fans of cinefantastique remember her for starring roles in two classic black-and-white horror movies from the Golden Age of Universal Studios in the 1930s: THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932) and THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933), both directed by the great James Whale.
Blond and beautiful, Stuart played the leading lady/romantic interest in both movies – typical roles for the period. However, being James Whale productions, both films have their share of tongue in cheek humor, in which Stuart was occasionally allowed to take part. In what looks like an improv, when her character Margaret Waverton is left alone in the titular spooky abode of THE OLD DARK HOUSE, instead of cowering in fear, she starts flashing hand-shadows on the wall, illuminated by the flickering fireplace
invisiblemanIn a personal appearance at the Egyptian Theatre early in the 2000s, Stuart recalled that all of the campy humor in both films derived not from the scripts but from Whale (who liked to poke fun at the horror genre in which Universal had typecast him). Stuart also recalled that Claude Rains, with whom she starred in THE INVISIBLE MAN, was a bit of a scene-stealer. When performing dialogue together, Rains would grasper Stuart by the shoulders and subtly maneuver her so that her back was to the camera, leaving himself as the dominant figure in the shot.
After her early stint at Universal, Stuart continued working into the 1940s, appearing in such films as BELOVED (1934) and GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935 (1935). After that, there is a 30-year gap in her filmography. She returned to acting in the mid-1970s, appearing in small roles in films and television. After another gap, this time of eight years, she returned to the big screen in TITANIC,which catapulted her back into the spotlight. She worked steadily until 2004, with more movie and television credits, including a guest stint, ironically, on THE INVISIBLE MAN series.
After her appearance at the Egyptian, Stuart was overheard answering a question about one of her co-stars in GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935. Her response was, “He’s dead, honey; they’re all dead.” Now at last Gloria Stuart has gone to join her co-stars in the great cinema in the sky. But as The Kinks’ Ray Davies said, “Celluloid Heroes never really die…”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *