This special awards program features an all-star salute to legendary actor James Stewart as he receives the American Film Institute (AFI) Lifetime Achievement Award. The evening, hosted by fellow actor and longtime friend Henry Fonda, features various actors and actresses commenting on Stewart's work and an array of clips from his classic films. Highlights include the following, among others: remarks by director Alfred Hitchcock on giving the award to an actor instead of a filmmaker; clips from Stewart's many roles as he pronounces every character's name; remarks by Charlton Heston about the award and Stewart's first role in the film "The Murder Man" (1935); Fonda commenting on Stewart's humble background and his career path; clips from "Born to Dance" (1936), "The Shopworn Angel" (1938), "It's a Wonderful World" (1939), "Destry Rides Again" (1939), "The Philadelphia Story" (1940), "The Greatest Show on Earth" (1952), "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962), and "The Spirit of St. Louis" (1957); remarks by Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco about Stewart's dedication to acting; clips from "You Can't Take It With You" (1938), "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946), and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939); remarks by director Frank Capra on Stewart giving great performances, regardless of the role; comments by Jack Lemmon about Stewart's luck in working with Hollywood's most famous actresses; clips from "Vivacious Lady" (1938) with Ginger Rogers, "You Can't Take It With You" with Jean Arthur, and "The Philadelphia Story" with Katharine Hepburn; comments by AFI director Jean Firstenberg on AFI's goal of preserving films for future generations; remarks by Fonda on Stewart's service in the armed forces during World War II; Walter Matthau describing how Stewart took on his position in the armed forces as if it were a film role; Dustin Hoffman explaining why Stewart's work will never be duplicated by the new generation of actors; clips from his post-war work, "Winchester '73" (1950), "Anatomy of a Murder" (1959), "It's A Wonderful Life", "The Flight of the Phoenix" (1966), and "Vertigo" (1958); and comments by Gene Kelly on his good luck when he directed Stewart and Fonda in "The Cheyenne Social Club" (1970). Then, actress Beluah Bondi introduces a list of colleagues, including Mervyn LeRoy, Richard Boone, George Kennedy, Ruth Hussey, Ernest Borgnine, Doug Morrow, Karl Malden, Henry Hathaway, Fred MacMurray, and Richard Widmark, who all speak a few words of gratitude to Stewart. Following a clip from "Harvey" (1951), AFI chairman George Stevens, Jr., introduces Stewart and gives him the AFI trophy, and Stewart delivers a short speech in which he thanks his peers and his loving family. Fonda closes the show with heartfelt words for his friend. Commercials deleted.


  • DATE: March 16, 1980 Sunday 9:30 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:13:48
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T85:0011
  • GENRE: Award presentations
  • SERIES RUN: CBS - TV, 1980


    • Harrison Engle … Producer
    • George Stevens … Producer, Writer
    • Michael B. Seligman … Associate Producer
    • Marty Pasetta … Director
    • Carol L. Fleisher … Researcher
    • Joseph McBride … Writer
    • Nelson Riddle … Music (Misc. Credits), Music Director
    • Henry Fonda … Host
    • James Stewart … Honoree
    • Jean Arthur
    • Beluah Bondi
    • Richard Boone
    • Ernest Borgnine
    • Frank Capra
    • Jean Firstenberg
    • Henry Hathaway
    • Katharine Hepburn
    • Charlton Heston
    • Alfred Hitchcock
    • Dustin Hoffman
    • Ruth Hussey
    • Gene Kelly
    • Kelly, Grace (see also: Grace, Princess of Monaco)
    • George Kennedy
    • Jack Lemmon
    • Mervyn LeRoy
    • Fred MacMurray
    • Karl Malden
    • Walter Matthau
    • Doug Morrow
    • Ginger Rogers
    • George Stevens
    • Richard Widmark