Stuart, the oldest person ever nominated for an acting Oscar, died in her home in Los Angeles.
Stuart’s most famous role and the one for which she was nominated for her Oscar, that of elderly shipwreck survivor Rose Calvert in Titanic, came after the actress had spent decades away from Hollywood. She had began her career in the ’30s as an ingenue, appearing in more than 40 films including The Invisible Man and Gold Diggers of 1935 between 1932 and 1942, but grew frustrated at the lack of quality roles available to her. She quit Hollywood and passed her time as a stage actress, oil painter and book designer, before being lured back to the screen in the 1970s.
Stuart’s time out of the public eye made her an ideal casting choice for Titanic director James Cameron, who wanted to cast a relative unknown as the 100-year-old Rose. In addition to an Academy Award nomination, the role earned her a career revival — as well as a spot on People‘s 50 Most Beautiful list. (She had in her previous career been named one of the 10 most beautiful women in Hollywood by Screen Play magazine.)
Stuart was also a founding member of both the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League and the Screen Actors Guild.
From the TIME archives:
In one of Stuart’s earliest features, 1932’s The Old Dark House, TIME gave her some words of recognition: “The U. S. citizen most importantly involved in the proceedings is pretty Gloria Stuart, a new ingenue from Pasadena, who gets very nearly frightened out of her wits.”
Our writers had more barbed compliments for 1936’s 36 Hours to Kill: “The cast is made up of the kind of people whose names look naked when exposed on marquees, but they are professional enough to convey that their antics are all in fun without impairing the occasional legitimate moments.”
Sixty year’s later, Belinda Luscombe took stock of the 1998 Academy Awards ceremony, noting “Escada made fabric especially to match nominee Gloria Stuart’s eyes.”
Finally, we close with two clips from two different eras of Hollywood. The first, Stuart appears alongside Ginger Rogers and 12 other ingenues in the roundup of 1933’s “Stars of Tomorrow”:
And in the second, Stuart appears on Charlie Rose a lifetime later. (Clip begins at 18:35.)