LOS ANGELES – Gloria Stuart, the 1930s Hollywood beauty who gave up acting for 30 years and later became the oldest Academy Award acting nominee as the spunky survivor in “Titanic,” has died. She was 100.
Stuart died of respiratory failure Sunday night at her Los Angeles home, her daughter, Sylvia Thompson, said Monday. The actress had been diagnosed with lung cancer five years ago and had beaten breast cancer about 20 years ago, Thompson said.
“She did not believe in illness. She paid no attention to it, and it served her well,” Thompson said.
In her youth, Stuart was a blond beauty who starred in B pictures as well as some higher-profile ones such as “The Invisible Man.” But by the mid-1940s she had retired.
She resumed acting in the 1970s, doing occasional television and film work, including Peter O’Toole’s 1982 comedy “My Favorite Year.” But Stuart’s later career would have remained largely a footnote if James Cameron had not chosen her for his 1997 epic about the doomed luxury liner that hit an iceberg and sank on its maiden voyage in 1912.
Stuart co-starred as Rose Calvert, the 101-year-old survivor played by Kate Winslet as a young woman. Both earned Oscar nominations, Winslet as best actress and Stuart as supporting actress.
Then in her mid-80s, Stuart endured hours in the makeup chair so she could look 15 years older, and she traveled to the Atlantic location, where the wreck of the real Titanic was photographed.