Very sad news this week: Stewart Stern, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter who’s lived in Seattle for several decades, died Monday at the age of 92. Among his credits were “Rebel Without a Cause,” “Rachel, Rachel,” “Teresa,” and the TV movies “Sybil” and “A Christmas to Remember.” Since moving here in the ’80s, he’s become known to many of us as an inspirational teacher, a world-class storyteller, and a genuinely lovely man. I’m at work on an obituary, which will appear early next week, but wanted to close out the week on P&P with a smile for Stewart and warm thoughts for his family and many friends. Though I didn’t know him well, I did interview him a couple of times, and occasionally exchanged emails with him — and, with Stewart, even a passing email note was an opportunity to tell a story. Here’s an excerpt from an email he sent me, back in 2005, in which he mentioned an upcoming screening of “Going Through Splat: The Life and Work of Stewart Stern,” a documentary about him:
When last heard from, the Festival had sold out the Egyptian for the screening. I have never been sold out in my life – except for the night Greta Garbo came to see a play I was in on Broadway and the cast spent the whole evening at a peep-hole backstage whenever they weren’t “on”, just watching the Legend trying not to laugh. I was lucky enough to have only the tiniest part, but still managed to miss a cue and be unable to walk with my back straight for at least two weeks.
Perhaps he’s happily swapping stories with his old pal Paul Newman, right now. Rest in peace, Stewart; you’ll be missed, and never forgotten. If you knew Stewart and want to share any memories, please do so in the comments.