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Hank and Jim

The Fifty-Year Friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart

“[A] remarkably absorbing, supremely entertaining joint biography” (The New York Times) from bestselling author Scott Eyman about the remarkable friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart, two Hollywood legends who maintained a close relationship that endured all of life’s twists and turns.

Henry Fonda and James Stewart were two of the biggest stars in Hollywood for forty years, but they became friends when they were unknown. They roomed together as stage actors in New York, and when they began making films in Hollywood, they were roommates again. Between them they made such classic films as The Grapes of Wrath, Mister Roberts, Twelve Angry Men, and On Golden Pond; and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Philadelphia Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, Vertigo, and Rear Window.

They got along famously, with a shared interest in elaborate practical jokes and model airplanes, among other things. But their friendship also endured despite their differences: Fonda was a liberal Democrat, Stewart a conservative Republican. Fonda was a ladies’ man who was married five times; Stewart remained married to the same woman for forty-five years. Both men volunteered during World War II and were decorated for their service. When Stewart returned home, still unmarried, he once again moved in with Fonda, his wife, and his two children, Jane and Peter, who knew him as Uncle Jimmy.

For his “breezy, entertaining” (Publishers Weekly) Hank and Jim, biographer and film historian Scott Eyman spoke with Fonda’s widow and children as well as three of Stewart’s children, plus actors and directors who had worked with the men—in addition to doing extensive archival research to get the full details of their time together. This is not just another Hollywood story, but “a fascinating…richly documented biography” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) of an extraordinary friendship that lasted through war, marriages, children, careers, and everything else.

Photograph by Greg Lovett

Scott Eyman was formerly the literary critic at The Palm Beach Post and is the author or coauthor of fifteen books, including the bestseller John Wayne and (with actor Robert Wagner) the bestsellers Pieces of My Heart and You Must Remember This. Among his other books are Hank and Jim: The Fifty-Year Friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart; Empire of Dreams: The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMilleLion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer; and Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford. Eyman also writes book reviews for The Wall Street Journal, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. He and his wife, Lynn, live in West Palm Beach.

“[A] remarkably absorbing, supremely entertaining joint biography of two Hollywood legends.”

– Noah Isenberg, The New York Times Book Review

"An absorbing dual portrait of two riveting, contrasting performers who were best friends for more than 50 years."

– The Wall Street Journal

“We love Hank Fonda and Jimmy Stewart already. They were beloved actors in a beloved age. So putting them either side of an ampersand seems natural. But what Scott Eyman does is to say, well, pay attention – these were two difficult, lonely, inarticulate guys who could seem alarming and chilly. But they were friends and Eyman has told their story like a movie, with humor, pathos and enchantment. This is not two biopics hitched together. It’s a love story for guys who never mentioned or even noticed love.”

– David Thomson, author of The Biographical Dictionary of Film and Warner Bros: The Story of an American Movie Studio

"[A] smart, generous chronicle." 

– Louis Bayard, The Washington Post

"Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart were two of the most brilliant stars of Hollywood’s golden age. They were also the best of friends, despite marked differences in their approach to life, love, family and politics. Scott Eyman, one of our finest film historians, presents an intimate, powerful and bittersweet account of these gifted, complex and troubled men and the world they knew and dominated."

– Glenn Frankel, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic

“Scott Eyman has a gift for exploring subjects we think we know, then deepening and enriching that knowledge through diligent research and his gift of observation. This book is no exception. Henry Fonda and James Stewart have never been captured so well, nor has their extraordinary fifty-year friendship.”

– Leonard Maltin

“In his engrossing new book, biographer and film historian Eyman vividly portrays the lives and work of two Hollywood legends. . . . An entertaining, richly documented biography that will be appreciated by film and theater scholars as well as fans of these memorable actors.” 

– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Chronicles the friendship between Fonda and Stewart in a charming, folksy style." 

– Gary M. Kramer, The Philadelphia Inquirer

More books from this author: Scott Eyman