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Joan Grauman Morse, AAA Historian

As the organization's historian, I have been writing articles about interesting accordionists.

I wrote this article just before Christmas. Christmas wouldn't be complete for me without watching the movie "It's A Wonderful Life". I hope you will enjoy my brief but heartwarming story of Jimmy Stewart's lifelong love of the accordion! And - don't forget to watch the movie this Christmas season!

Joan Grauman, AAA Historian

Jimmy Stewart's "It's a Wonderful Accordion Life"

It is the time of year, once again, when my mind goes to holiday music, magical light displays, celebrations with loved ones, and to my all-time favorite movie, "It's a Wonderful Life". I have watched this heartwarming movie every Christmas season for the last 50 years. The message conveyed in this film is one that each of us should hear often: None of us is a failure if we have helped others, even in a small way.

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The star of this movie, Jimmy Stewart, has always been my favorite actor. Wholesome and warmly "real", Stewart could so convincingly bring his characters to life. It's a Wonderful Life, produced and directed by Frank Capra in 1946, was one of three Capra films that starred Jimmy Stewart. Capra felt that Stewart was perfect to project a message of an ideal America. The two men became close friends. I soon discovered that they had something else in common: they both played and loved the accordion! See picture of Frank Capra below with the accordion.

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Given an accordion at the age of 6, Jimmy Stewart fell in love with this instrument and it remained a beloved part of his life until his death. In 1938, Stewart was chosen to do a photo shoot for a cover of the new periodical, the "Accordion World Magazine". The photos were mesmerizing with incredible shadows of his accordion's bellows.

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Although Jimmy Stewart's celebrated film career spanned 80 films and he was a Brigadier General in the Army Air Force during WWII (1941-1947), it was the accordion that meant the most to him in the end. Stewart chose one of the photos taken for the Accordion World Magazine in 1938 to be used when he passed away. Jimmy Stewart died in 1997 at the age of 89.

I strongly suggest watching "It's a Wonderful Life" this holiday season. In the last few moments of the film, Police Officer Bert (Ward Bond) comes in playing "Auld Lang Syne" on a beautiful old accordion. Happy Holidays, Everyone!!

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