Brisbane History and Hollywood Film Star Jimmy Stewart

Building Brisbane’s History

Historian, Helen Gregory and I had a great time at Riverbend Books a while back, talking about our book, Building Brisbane’s History.  The crowd who filled up Riverbend’s wonderful deck enjoyed wine and sushi – no wonder their book talks are so popular!

One of the best things about doing an author event is what you learn from the people who come along. A lady who’d been looking at the section of the book on ‘Queenslander’ architecture recognised one of the images as a house that had been used by the Americans as a small hospital during World War II. Famous Hollywood actor, Jimmy Stewart, a bomber pilot during the war, was treated at this hospital.

At the time …. There was much excitement that a Hollywood star was visiting Brisbane. A Courier Mail article dated 2 April 1942 reports: Rumours that James Stewart, the Hollywood filmstar is stationed in Australia with the American Air Force has quickened the pulse beats of Brisbane “fans” in the last few weeks. It was rumoured that he’d been the guest of honour at a luncheon at Lennon’s Hotel (which still stands with access from the Queen Street Mall). Before his rise to fame, James Stewart had trained as an architect, so I wonder what the actor thought about our Queenslander architecture.

Rear Window

As we were signing books, a man came up and asked if the room he’d occupied in the hospital had a ‘Rear Window’ !

Jimmy Stewart appeared in several Hitchcock films. You can see these during the Hitchcock retrospective, at GoMA’s Australian Cinémathèque, which runs from 7 October to 27 November 2011.  Rear Window is showing on Friday 4  and Saturday 12 November.

About Dianne McLay

Australian writer, author and photographer. Author of 3 guidebooks: Brisbane's Best Bush, Bay & City Walks -- Best of Brisbane guide book -- Best Village & Coastal Walks of the Sunshine Coast. Photographer for "Building Brisbane's History - the fascinating stories behind the city's most notable buildings and structures" Editor of
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