Friends, I want to talk a bit about stars, no, not the celestial type…but the personalities in our lives that achieve fame and renown because of their talents. It is after all, their talents that make them famous; who they are as people is perhaps somewhat secondary. At the Jimmy Stewart Museum, we know that in a greater sense, what perhaps ultimately endears those people to us, and makes them endure the test of time can be something more than the talents that made them famous.
We know and see this through the career and importantly too, the life of James Stewart. International film icon, without question; but further and so meaningful to us, is the person James Stewart. Quiet, unassuming, devoted to family, military hero of the Second World War, and a supporter of meaningful causes, great and small, that we may never know the extent of….because —that’s the way he wanted it.
Other stars have graced our little world, here in Indiana, PA. I want to tell you about the weekend of October 3, when we were all most fortunate to spend time with our 2014 Harvey Award Winner, Carol Burnett. Of course, we know about the great career and innumerable honors Carol Burnett has received. We know that from a distance, what we did not know was the person, Carol Burnett. Those of us who had the singular opportunity and delight to be near to her during our visit, also had the privilege to learn a bit about the person who inhabits that star. During her short visit with us, I saw so many regular folks, simply say to her “Thank you for making us laugh”…. And to each person she encountered, she was the same receptive, appreciative, gracious lady from the first person to the last. Now this is not to say that she was not an absolute hoot! Her impromptu one- liners at the museum, her spontaneous, sonorous Tarzan yell, as I escorted her into the ballroom at Chestnut Ridge did not disappoint. And her love and admiration for our hero James Stewart was more than touchingly apparent.
Cousins, we live in a time of the immediate and disposable, of ever superseding fads and trends and thin veneers. The great good fortune that this museum has in its hero, and the opportunities to honor people like Burnett, is that we can dispel that sadness. We have, what Michael McLean, Mr. Stewart’s son used to describe our wonderful new benefactors Ken and Carol Schultz, saying, as he told me his father might say: we have: “the real deal”. The Schultz’s have joined with the Stewart family, and all who visit and support us to help maintain this tribute and dispel the lack of the genuine and authentic in our world. They as well, are no less bright and shining stars in our little world.
Thanks for listening…