'Titanic' actress Gloria Stuart celebrates her 100th birthday
In the 1997 movie "Titanic," Gloria Stuart's elderly character, Rose, looked back on her doomed romance aboard the legendary ship decades earlier. Rose may not have had much luck with that affair, but behind the scenes, Stuart was cooking up another love story of her own when she played Cupid between the film's director, James Cameron, and cast member Suzy Amis, now husband and wife for 10 years.
"Gloria brought Jim and me together," Amis told the crowd at Stuart's private birthday party Sunday. "She saw our whole love happen, and it blossomed in front of her eyes. And on Jim's birthday, she called me and said, 'Suzy, it's somebody's birthday, and you need to call him.' She guided and held my hand through the whole thing. She's my dear, dear friend. And Gloria, when I grow up, I want to be just like you."A beaming Stuart celebrated her 100th birthday in front of more than 100 family members and friends, including "Titanic's" Frances Fisher, Shirley MacLaine and Tom Arnold, at the Ace Gallery in Beverly Hills, at a party hosted by Cameron and Amis. Stuart was born July 4, 1910, in Santa Monica into one of California's early families, which can trace its roots to the gold rush town of Angels Camp.
"My grandmother comes from a very tenacious family," media entrepreneur Benjamin Stuart Thompson said later. "I think what has driven her is her joie de vivre. If a person is excited about life, they find joy and opportunities at every turn."
Indeed, for one day, the gallery was filled with examples of Stuart's creativity -- decades of her fanciful oil paintings and bonsai trees she donated to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. Family members read aloud her current work in progress -- an illustrated book titled "Flight of Butterfly."
And, as Cameron noted in hailing "a century of Gloria Stuart," her prolific-ness doesn't stop there.
"Gloria's so alive, and her creativity, her artistry and the sparkle in her eyes is a challenge to all of us to live as fully and richly as she has and will continue to do as she heads into her 101st year," said the director, who's converting the blockbuster into 3-D for re-release in April 2012, the 100th anniversary of the ship's sinking. "We all love you, Gloria, and not just because about half of the people in this room are the direct or indirect product of your loins."
-- Irene Lacher
Photo: James Cameron, left, Gloria Stuart, Suzy Amis and Francis Fisher blow out the new centenarian's birthday candles in Beverly Hills on July 4. Credit: The Stuart family.