Born:August 19, 1873 in Denver, COOccupation:ActorBiography: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...Read MoreFred 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.
Fred Stone (1873-1959) lived a life characterized by a love for performing and a passion for taking risks. By the age of ten, he was working with the circus and soon moved up the entertainment ladder to medicine shows, minstrel shows, variety acts, and musical comedy. His outstanding career in theatre and film spanned more than fifty years and included many memorable performances, among them the original Scarecrow in the 1903 stage production of The Wizard of Oz and Katherine Hepburn's father in the 1935 film Alice Adams . For many years he was the most consistent box-office attraction in the American theatre. Along the way he developed a range of useful talents; he was a dancer, an acrobat, an ice-skater, lariat thrower, and tight-rope walker. Another significant quality that distinguished Fred Stone was the intense loyalty of his lifelong friends, including legendary humorist Will Rogers and well-known novelist Rex Beach, who remarked, "To my way of thinking, the biggest thing about Fred is not his genius as an entertainer and his hold upon the affections of the American pubic, nor is it the fact that he made good with but few advantages; it is the fact that in spite of his enormous success he has remained a simple, honest, and charitable man. He is the Peter Pan of our day."
Fred Stone was a lifelong actor and risk-taker. It is fitting that a theatre space devoted to challenge, growth, and experimentation bears his name.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz had been transformed into a stage play, and in this work, several elements were clearly incorporated with an eye to that adaptation and to the possible adaptations of this work. The Marvelous Land of Oz was dedicated to David C. Montgomery and Fred Stone, the comedians "whose clever personations of the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow have delighted thousands of children throughout the land..." in the 1902 stage adaptation of the first Oz book. From their importance to the play, a similar importance is given them this work, where neither Dorothy nor the Cowardly Lion appear
The Marvelous Land of Oz was also influenced by the story and vaudevillian tone of the stage play. The character of the Wizard was in the book a good man though a bad wizard but in the play, the villain of the piece; this is reflected by the evil part he is described as having played in the back story of this work. The two armies of women, both Jinjur's and Glinda's, were so clearly intended as future chorus girls that even reviews of the book noted the similarity