Anne Stewart: A Most Successful Failure



If you didn’t know any better, you would swear she was famous.

Anne Stewart came from a traditional Jewish family and reinvented herself into a glamorous Hollywood starlet and socialite. To some, her scandalous life confirmed her status as the “black sheep” of the family.  Others saw her as a beacon, which pointed the way out of the narrow confines of her culture and into the larger world.

Anne’s early years capture the glamour, innocence and excitement of New York in the 1930’s.  Her breathtaking beauty allowed her to mix with the uppermost echelons of New York society. A torrid affair with a famous Metropolitan opera and movie star resulted in the birth of a daughter Diana in 1935.  Anne’s cousins recount how they watched in amazement as she brazenly flouted family tradition.

Anne was a contract player in Hollywood in the 1940’s – at height of the studio system and at a time when movies were populated with actors who are considered today to be some of the greatest icons of our culture.   She dated Tyrone Power and saved all the letters he wrote to her while serving in the Air force during World War II.  The single mother Anne Stewart befriended the single mother Joan Crawford.  In candid interviews she expresses regret for not being nicer to that pesky little Marilyn Monroe who, she claims, chased her around the lot saying, “I want to be sophisticated like you, Anne.”

Anne struggled for years to attain the broad acceptance that she felt she was lacking.  Whether Anne Stewart was a success or a failure is up to the viewer to decide.  Much of Anne’s family was disapproving of the path she chose in life, but others were inspired.  It is with this mixed message that Anne called herself, “a most successful failure.

This documentary was constructed from interviews, letters, archival footage plus Anne’s large collections of news clippings and photos that span the 1920’s up to her death in 2002.   Anne never succeeded as an actress; therefore only one short film clip exists from her tenure with 20th Century Fox.  Nonetheless, Anne was an iconic Hollywood figure – for one Jewish family, at least.

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Becky Neiman


Todd Jones


Aimee Nowland

Director of Photography