Old School Americana & Nostalgia


James Stewart Narrates Bedtime Story 26 Years After Death With the Help of AI

James Stewart Narrates Bedtime Story 26 Years After Death With the Help of AI

James (Jimmy) Stewart can now lull you to sleep with a bedtime story, thanks to an AI-generated version of his voice. A new bedtime story on the Calm sleep and meditation app features narration from the late, legendary Hollywood actor who passed away in 1997.

The Calm story features the voice of Stewart, renowned for his roles in iconic films like It’s a Wonderful Life and Rear Window. Through the use of AI voice-cloning technology, Stewart’s distinctive voice has been recreated.

According to Variety, this project received consent from Stewart’s family. It’s managed by CMG Worldwide, ensuring respect for his legacy.

Calm released the AI-generated story titled “It’s a Wonderful Sleep Story” exclusively on their app on December 5th. This holiday tale is now accessible to Calm Premium subscribers, who pay an annual fee of $69.99.

“Well, hello. I’m James Stewart. But, well, you can call me Jimmy,” Stewart’s AI-generated voice says as the story begins. “Tonight, I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a heartwarming story of love, of loss, of hope and of joy. But most of all, it’s a wonderful sleep story.” Calm released the intro on Instagram.

James Stewart’s AI-Generated Voice Concerned Fans on Social Media

Instagram users were quick to question the ethics of using a deceased actor’s voice without his direct consent. “This is concerning. Do we really want to be doing this? Putting words in a dead person‘s mouth?” one user said. “This is revolting. Rethinking my subscription,” another irritated customer wrote.

Another Calm user also questioned the decision to use James Stewart’s voice. “I love Calm but this is just all wrong,” they wrote. “Can’t we just appreciate movies and stars of the past for what they were and leave it at that?”

However, the family of James Stewart is enthusiastic about the new creation. Kelly Stewart Harcourt, daughter of Stewart, released a statement regarding the undertaking. “We are excited for our dad to be the voice of Calm’s latest Sleep Story,” Harcourt said. “It’s amazing what technology can do and wonderful to see Dad’s legacy live on this holiday season in new ways, like helping people find restful sleep and sweet dreams.”

Respeecher Focuses on Preserving the Legacy of Jimmy Stewart

Calm partnered with Respeecher, an AI voice-cloning startup known for their work in recreating iconic voices like Mark Hamill’s portrayal of Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian and James Earl Jones’ portrayal of Darth Vader in Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+.

Following the release of the James Stewart-narrated bedtime story, Respeecher reached out to Odometer with a statement about its AI creation. “Bringing Jimmy Stewart’s voice to life for the Calm app was a project filled with both excitement and a deep sense of responsibility,” Respeecher co-founder and CEO Alex Serdiuk said.

“At Respeecher, we believe in the transformative power of AI, but we also understand the importance of ethical considerations, especially when working with the legacy of such a beloved figure. The Stewart family’s support was crucial, ensuring that our work not only paid homage to Jimmy’s remarkable career but also aligned with their vision of preserving his legacy. Our goal was to create a calming, nostalgic experience for listeners, allowing them to connect with Stewart’s enduring charm in a novel and comforting way.”