Titanic Actress Gloria Stuart Dies at 100

Entertainment Sep. 27, 2010 AT 1:59PM
Titanic Actress Gloria Stuart Dies at 100 Credit: Evan Agostini/Getty Images

Actress Gloria Stuart -- who co-starred in Titanic -- died Sunday at age 100 in her West Los Angeles home  The Washington Post has confirmed.

Her daughter Sylvia Thompson told the Post that Stuart was diagnosed with lung cancer several years ago.

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Stuart played the older, 101-year-old version of Kate Winslet's Titantic survivor Rose -- she dropped a priceless "heart of the ocean" jewel in the water -- in the 1997 smash. At the 1998 Academy Awards, Stuart became the oldest actress ever to be nominated for an Oscar (for Best Supporting Actress); she lost to Kim Basinger.

The star first worked in Hollywood in the 1930s, starring as a gorgeous blonde in over 40 films -- but hadn't worked for a while when James Cameron hired her at age 87 for his record-breaking, Oscar-winning box office smash.

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Despite starring in such hit films as Gold Diggers of 1935 (helmed by revered musical director Busby Berkeley)  plus the Shirley Temple films Poor Little Rich Girl (1936) and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938), Stuart was never able to become a bonafide movie star, and said she "got sick and tired of fighting." In her semi-retirement she took a few small parts in TV and film, including the 1982 film My Favorite Year.

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In his search to fill the part of the elderly Gloria, director Cameron had said he wanted to cast an actress who, like Stuart, had achieved fame during Hollywood's golden era.  Stuart later joked that she was the only octogenarian who was "still viable, not alcoholic, rheumatic or falling down."

She received numerous film offers after Titanic's phenomenal success, but turned them all down except for the Wim Wenders-directed flick The Million Dollar Hotel.

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In her 1999 memoir I Just Kept Hoping, Stuart wrote of her later-in-life acclaim: "When I graduated from Santa Monica High in 1927, I was voted the girl most likely to succeed. I didn't realize it would take so long."

The twice-divorced actress is survived by her daughter plus four grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

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