Fred Stone

Active - 1919 - 1940  |   Born - Aug 19, 1873   |   Died - Mar 6, 1959   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Romance, Western, Crime

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Fred Stone, celebrated in his twilight years as "The Grand Old Man of Broadway," kicked off his professional career at age 10 in a tightrope act with his brother Ed. As the century turned, Stone teamed with David Montgomery for a string of musical-comedy extravaganzas. In 1903's The Wizard of Oz (which allegedly introduced the popular catch-phrase "He's a whiz!") Stone appeared as the Scarecrow opposite Montgomery' s Tin Man, while in Victor Herbert's The Red Mill, Montgomery and Stone stole the proceedings as a pair of disguise-happy detectives. After Montgomery's death, Fred Stone flourished as a solo actor. Stone was a great pal of Will Rogers, who named one of his sons Fred; occasionally, Rogers would substitute on stage for an ailing Stone, and vice versa. While the bulk of his work was on stage, Stone flirted with films from 1917 onward, starring in a series of westerns for Jesse Lasky and then sporadically showing up in silent-film character parts. He set up shop in Hollywood permanently in 1935, when he was cast as Katharine Hepburn's father in Alice Adams. This led to a contract with RKO; the studio planned to turn Stone into a "second Will Rogers," hoping to corral the fans that Rogers had left behind after his sudden death in 1935. Unfortunately, RKO's Fred Stone vehicles were for the most part undemanding programmers like Grand Jury (1936) and Hideaway (1937), which added little to the reputation of either the star or the studio. Following his appearance in Sam Goldwyn's The Westerner (1940), Fred Stone settled into a long and richly deserved retirement. All three of Stone's daughters had brief film careers, but only Dorothy Stone achieved any kind of prominence.

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