He began his film career in 1935 and soon gained popularity for his slow drawl and shy, homespun charm. In later years, he brought these qualities to bear on more determined, heroic characters. He won an Academy Award for The Philadelphia Story (1940) and received an honorary award in 1984. His signature role is that of George Bailey, a small towner brought to an understanding of his own importance on Christmas Eve in It's a Wonderful Life (1946). His many films include Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Destry Rides Again (1939), Broken Arrow (1950), Harvey (1950), Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), Anatomy of a Murder (1959), The Flight of the Phoenix (1965), and The Shootist (1975). A long-time member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, he rose to the rank of brigadier general. He also starred in two television series and published a book of humorous poetry (1989).