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Jimmy Stewart And Henry Fonda Were Friends For Life Despite Their Political Differences

Jimmy Stewart was a Republican and Henry Fonda was a Democrat, yet the two classic Hollywood stars were best friends for life.

Classic Hollywood legends Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda enjoyed a friendship that spanned half a century despite the fact the two had completely opposite political views. At a time when America is more divided than ever politically, we could all learn a lot from their friendship. 

Biographer: ‘They Were Very Much Alike’

“They were very much alike,” Robert Matzen, author of “Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe,” told Closer Weekly of the two men. “They were both quiet introverts. Tall guys who were not really comfortable in their own skin.”

Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda first met in 1932, when they were both aspiring actors working in Summer Stock on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

“We were so skinny, the two of us only cast one shadow,” Fonda once joked. 

They immediately bonded over their mutual love for acting and airplanes, and in 1934, they bought the largest model airplane kit Macy’s carried as a Christmas present to one another. 

“Both of us were working in shows and every night we’d rush home and start putting the plane together,” Stewart once recalled. “First thing we knew it was 6 in the morning!””

Related: Watch George Burns Take Aim At Jimmy Stewart At This Dean Martin Roast

Jimmy Stewart And Henry Fonda Had Political And Religious Differences

Henry Fonda was a staunch Democrat. Jimmy Stewart was a stalwart Republican. But, but after one particularly intense political argument, the two friends agreed to never discuss politics again. 

“There were certain subjects we just didn’t talk about,” Stewart said. 

Here’s a fun throwback clip where Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda battle it out over politics in a scene from their 1970 movie The Cheyenne Social Club.

They also differed on religion, with Fonda being agnostic and Stewart being a Presbyterian who went to church every Sunday. Despite these differences, however, they remained devoted to one another as brothers until the end.

When Stewart returned from World War II with PTSD after seeing combat as an Army pilot, he sought refuge with Fonda, who had won a Bronze Star in the Navy. He even lived in the “playhouse” Fonda had built for his children at his Hollywood Hills home for a time after the war.

“What each needed from the other was quiet and space,” said Matzen, adding that they helped one another by flying kits and listening to music. 

Related: How Hollywood Icon Jimmy Stewart, a WWII Ace, Dealt With PTSD

Jimmy Stewart Repays The Favor

Stewart repaid the favor in the early 1980s, when Fonda became sick with cancer.

“He was there for him,” said Matzen. “The two of them would sit there, not talking. They spent hours just being friends.”

When Fonda died in 1982, Stewart described him as “my oldest and dearest friend,” adding that, “the world has lost a great talent and I have lost a very dear friend.”

Jimmy Stewart was eventually reunited with Henry Fonda when he passed away fifteen years later in 1997.

While these two Hollywood legends are still dearly missed to this day, it’s comforting to know that these two best friends are together again. 

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