James Maitland Stewart (May 20, 1908 – July 2, 1997) was an American actor and military officer who is among the most honored and popular stars in film history. Known for his distinctive drawl, down-to-earth persona, and authentic acting style, Stewart's film career spanned over 55 years and included performances in 80 films. He was a major movie star from the beginning of the sound film era through the end of the golden age of Classical Hollywood. The characters he portrayed were largely appealing to audiences and included roles in a large span of film genres. His highly emotional film performances contributed to his cinematic acclaim. With the strong morals he portrayed both on screen and in his personal life, Stewart epitomized the "American ideal" in the 20th-century United States.