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Stanislaus Pascal Franchot Tone (February 27, 1905 – September 18, 1968) was an American stage, film and television actor. He was Oscar-nominated for his role as Midshipman Roger Byam in Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), starring alongside Oscar-winner Clark Gable and fellow nominee Charles Laughton. Tone was a leading man in the 1930s and early ‘40s, and at the height of his career was known for his gentlemanly, sophisticate roles, with supporting roles by the ‘50s. His acting crossed many genres including pre-Code romantic leads to Noir layered roles and many WWI films. He appeared as a guest star in episodes of several golden age television series, including The Twilight Zone and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour while continuing to act and produce in the theater and movies throughout the 1960s.
Stanislaus Pascal Franchot Tone
February 27, 1905
Niagara Falls, New York, U.S.
|Died||September 18, 1968 (aged 63)|
New York City, U.S.
|Education||The Hill School|
|Alma mater||Cornell University|
(m. 1935; div. 1939)
(m. 1941; div. 1948)
(m. 1951; div. 1952)
(m. 1956; div. 1959)
- 1 Family and early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Death
- 5 Filmography
- 6 Partial TV credits
- 7 Theater appearances
- 8 Radio appearances
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Family and early lifeEdit
Stanislaus Pascal Franchot Tone was born in Niagara Falls, New York, the youngest son of Dr. Frank Jerome Tone, the wealthy president of the Carborundum Company, and his socially prominent wife, Gertrude Van Vrancken Franchot. His maternal great-grandfather was congressman Richard Franchot. Tone was also a distant relative of Wolfe Tone (the "father of Irish Republicanism"); his fourth great-grandfather John Tone was a first cousin of Peter Tone, the father of Wolfe Tone. Tone was of French Canadian, Irish, and English ancestry. Through his ancestor, the nobleman Gilbert L'Homme de Basque, translated to Basque Homme and finally Bascom, he was of French Basque descent.
Tone was educated at The Hill School, from which he was dismissed "for being a subtle influence for disorder throughout the fall term". He then entered Cornell University, where he was president of the drama club and was elected to the Sphinx Head Society. He also joined the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. He gave up the family business to pursue an acting career in the theater. After graduating, he moved to Greenwich Village, New York.
Tone was in The Belt (1927), Centuries (1927–28), The International (1928), and a popular adaptation of The Age of Innocence (1928–29) with Katherine Cornell. He followed it with appearances in Uncle Vanya (1929), Cross Roads (1929), Red Rust (1929–30), Hotel Universe (1930), Pagan Lady (1930–31).
Tone also became a founding member of the Group Theatre, when the Theater Guild disbanded along with other former guild members Harold Clurman, Cheryl Crawford, Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, and Clifford Odets. Clifford Odets recalled of Tone's acting, "The two most talented young actors I have known in the American theater in my time have been Franchot Tone and Marlon Brando, and I think Franchot was the more talented." Strasberg, later becoming a director of the Group during 1931-1941 and teacher of "The Method" in the 1950s, had been a castmate of Tone's in Green Grow the Lilacs, which only ran for 64 performances.
These were intense and productive years for him; among the productions of the Group he acted in were 1931 (1931) lasting 12 performances, Maxwell Anderson's Night Over Taos (1931) a play in verse lasted l0, The House of Connelly (1931) lasting 91 performances and John Howard Lawson's Success Story (1932) directed by Lee Strasberg. Outside the Group he was in A Thousand Summers (1932).
The MGM yearsEdit
Tone was the first of the Group to go to Hollywood when MGM offered him a film contract. In his memoir on the Group Theater, The Fervent Years, Harold Clurman recalls Tone being the most confrontational and egocentric of the group in the beginning. However, Burgess Meredith credits Tone with informing him of the existence of "the Method" and what was soon to be the Actors' Studio under Strasberg's teachings. Nevertheless, he always considered cinema far more invasive to private life and paced differently than theater productions and recalled his stage years with fondness. He later provided financial support to the Group Theater, which often needed it. He returned to stage work sporadically after the 1940s.
MGM immediately gave Tone a series of impressive roles, casting him in six pre-Code film standards, which came out in 1933. They started him with the WWI romantic war drama Today We Live, written by William Faulkner in collaboration with director Howard Hawks. It was originally meant to be just the WWI war buddy script by Faulkner but the studio wanted a vehicle for Crawford so the two got together and wedged in the romance between co-stars Gary Cooper and Joan Crawford. Tone was then the romantic male lead in Gabriel Over the White House starring Walter Huston and co-starred with Loretta Young in Midnight Mary.
Tone romanced Miriam Hopkins in King Vidor's The Stranger's Return and was the male lead in Stage Mother. He also had an excellent role in Bombshell, with Jean Harlow and Lee Tracy. The last of the sequence of films released in 1933 was Dancing Lady, with his future wife Joan Crawford and Clark Gable, which was a "lavishly staged spectacle" with a solid performance by Tone.
Twentieth Century Pictures borrowed Tone to romance Constance Bennett in Moulin Rouge (1934) as she played dual roles, his performance was called, "clever' as he also does not fail to take advantage of the humorous incidences" by The New York Times. Back at MGM he was again co-star with Crawford in Sadie McKee (1934), then was borrowed by Fox to co-star "commendably" with Madeleine Carroll in John Ford's French Foreign Legion pic, The World Moves On (1934).
After The Girl from Missouri (1934) with Harlow, MGM finally gave Tone top billing in Straight Is the Way (1934), although it was considered a "B" film, one which didn't have a high publicity or production cost. Warners then borrowed him for Gentlemen Are Born (1934).
At Paramount, Tone starred in a huge hit in The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935) with Gary Cooper. He was top billed in One New York Night (1935) but billed underneath Harlow and William Powell in Reckless (1935). He supported Crawford and Robert Montgomery in No More Ladies (1935) and had another box-office success with Mutiny on the Bounty, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, along with co-stars Clark Gable and Charles Laughton.
Warner Bros borrowed him again, this time to play Bette Davis' leading man in Dangerous (1935). Davis has stated this is the picture where she fell in love with Tone, although unreturned, which began difficulties between Crawford and Davis. He then had the lead in Exclusive Story (1935), and again was paired with friend Loretta Young in The Unguarded Hour (1936) and also starred with Grace Moore in Columbia's The King Steps Out (1936), notable for the debut of an eleven-year old Gwen Verdon.
Tone was the third lead in Suzy (1936) with Harlow and Cary Grant. He then filmed The Gorgeous Hussy (1936) with Crawford, Robert Taylor and Lionel Barrymore with co-star Beulah Bondi earning an Academy award nomination for the Andrew Jackson period piece. A Crawford and Gable film captilizing on It Happened One Night by casting the pair in roles as fast talking journalists in Love on the Run (1936), found Tone in a supporting role.
RKO borrowed him to appear opposite Katharine Hepburn in Quality Street (1937), a costume drama that lost $248,000 at the box office. Back at MGM he supported Spencer Tracy and Gladys George in They Gave Him a Gun (1937).
He had the lead in Between Two Women (1937) and co-starred for the final time with Crawford in The Bride Wore Red (1937), then joined Myrna Loy in Man-Proof (1938) and Gladys George in Love Is a Headache (1938).
In Three Comrades (1938) Tone was teamed with Robert Taylor and Margaret Sullavan in a film about delusioned soldiers returning to Germany after World War I. He made Three Loves Has Nancy (1938) with Janet Gaynor and Robert Montgomery. Tone co-starred with Franciska Gaal in The Girl Downstairs (1938), a Cinderella type story. He then starred in a "B" picture with Ann Sothern in Fast and Furious (1939) as married crime slueths, the third movie in a series with different sets of actors in each, that were marketed towards the Thin Man films audiences. After his contract ended, Tone left MGM in 1939 to act on Broadway in a return to his stage roots, often working with "the Group's" members of its formative years, and playwrights such as Eugene O'Neill.
Return to BroadwayEdit
He returned to Broadway for Irwin Shaw's The Gentle People (1939) and an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's The Fifth Column (1940), which only had a short run. He later starred in Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten, during the 1950s, and Strange Interlude. His biggest performance of Oh, Men! Oh, Women!(1953) ran for 400 performances.
The Universal, Columbia & Paramount combinationEdit
Tone signed a contract with Universal, where he starred in his first Western, Trail of the Vigilantes (1940). He was soon back supporting female stars though, making Nice Girl? (1941) with Deanna Durbin.
Tone made two more films at Paramount, True to Life (1943) with Mary Martin and The Hour Before the Dawn (1944) with Veronica Lake. He had one of his best roles in Universal's Phantom Lady (1944) directed by Robert Siodmak, an early film noir picture and a villainous part for Tone. Also impressive was his performance in Dark Waters (1944) with Merle Oberon for Benedict Bogeaus.
He continued his stage career by performing on Broadway in Hope for the Best (1945).
Tone made Lost Honeymoon (1947) at Eagle Lion Studios and Honeymoon (1947) with Shirley Temple. While at Columbia he had roles in Her Husband's Affairs (1947) with Lucille Ball, and I Love Trouble (1947), then Every Girl Should Be Married (1948) reteamed with Grant at RKO. He had the lead as an assistant D.A. looking for the murderer of a journalist while being distracted by a beauty played by then wife Jean Wallace in the film noir thriller, Jigsaw (1949). He then had a supporting part as a murder victim in Without Honor (1949), a noir film co-starring Laraine Day.
Tone produced and starred in The Man on the Eiffel Tower (1949), a troubled production suffering from filming delays on location, creative wrangling and the pictures hard to transfer single-strip technicolor film stock. It has benefited from restorations in the 2000s that have coincided with theatrical showings and vastly improved DVD releases. Tone's tour de force role as a manic depressive sociopath included performing many of his own stunts on the Paris landmark.
Burgess Meredith and Charles Laughton star with Tone and Meredith is credited as director although Tone took over duties when Merideth was in front of the camera with Laughton sometimes directing himself. The film has some of the best cinematic pictures of the Eiffel Tower according to French director Jean Renior.
Live theater televisionEdit
Tone relocated to New York and began appearing in New York City-based live theater television, including The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, Lux Video Theatre, Danger, Suspense and Starlight Theatre. He returned to Hollywood to appear in Here Comes the Groom (1951).
Back on the small screen, Tone was in Lights Out, Tales of Tomorrow, Hollywood Opening Night, The Revlon Mirror Theater, and The Philip Morris Playhouse. But he soon returned to Broadway, appearing in a big hit with Oh, Men! Oh, Women! (1953–54), a revival of The Time of Your Life (1955) and A Moon for the Misbegotten with Wendy Hiller and Cyril Cusack in 1957.
During this time he continued to appear on TV adaptations of Broadway plays, in such original productions as Twelve Angry Men, as well as The Elgin Hour, The Ford Television Theatre, and in the The Best of Broadway series in a production of The Guardsman with Claudette Colbert. Tone then continued in Four Star Theatre, Robert Montgomery Presents, a Playwrights '56 production of The Sound and the Fury, Omnibus, General Electric Theater, The United States Steel Hour, The Kaiser Aluminum Hour, The Alcoa Hour, Climax!, Armchair Theatre, Pursuit, Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Goodyear Theatre, Playhouse 90, and The DuPont Show of the Month.
He did a TV adaptation of The Little Foxes (1956) with Greer Garson and played Frank James in Bitter Heritage (1958). In 1957 Tone co-produced, co-directed, and starred in an adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, which was filmed concurrently with an off-Broadway revival. His performance as the Russian country doctor with "ennui" was praised and the preserving of the stage production to film only varied by the addition of then wife Dolores Dorn.
Final films and televisionEdit
In the early 1960s Tone was in episodes of Bonanza and The Twilight Zone ("The Silence") and appeared on Broadway in an adaptation of Mandingo (1961). He then had a good film role as the charismatic, dying president in the screen adaptation of the pulitzer prize winning novel Advise & Consent (1962), an Otto Preminger film that the director had unsuccessfully lobbied Martin Luther King to portray a senator in, while many U.S. senators played extras on Capital Hill locations previously used for Mr. Smith goes to Washington.
He was cast in TV shows such as The Eleventh Hour, Dupont Show of the Week, The Reporter, Festival, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and The Virginian. He appeared in what is possibly the first TV movie, See How They Run (1964).
He had roles in Otto Preminger's film In Harm's Way (1965) in which he portrayed Admiral Husband E. Kimmel and Arthur Penn's Mickey One (1965), and an episode of Run for Your Life. He appeared off-Broadway in Beyond Desire (1967) and his last roles were in Shadow Over Elveron (1968) and Nobody Runs Forever (1968) a British film originally titled The High Commissioner.
In 1935, Tone married actress Joan Crawford; the couple divorced in 1939. They made seven films together – Today We Live (1933), Dancing Lady (1933), Sadie McKee (1934), No More Ladies (1935), The Gorgeous Hussy (1936), Love on the Run (1936), and The Bride Wore Red (1937). During the time they were married, they tried to have children, but Crawford had several pregnancies that ended in miscarriages.
Tone took their split hard, and his recollections of her were cynical — "She's like that old joke about Philadelphia: first prize, four years with Joan; second prize, eight". However, many years later, when Tone was dying of lung cancer, Joan often cared for him, paying for his food and medical treatments. At one point during this period, Tone suggested they remarry, but she declined the offer.
In 1941, Tone married fashion model-turned-actress Jean Wallace, who appeared with Tone in both Jigsaw and The Man on the Eiffel Tower. The couple had two sons and were divorced in 1948. She later married actor Cornel Wilde.
In 1951, Tone's relationship with actress Barbara Payton made headlines when he was rendered unconscious for 18 hours and sustained numerous facial injuries following a fistfight with actor Tom Neal, a rival for Payton's attention. Plastic surgery nearly fully restored his broken nose and cheek. Tone subsequently married Payton, but divorced her in 1952, after obtaining photographic evidence she had continued her relationship with Neal. Payton and Neal married in 1953 and captilized on the scandal touring with a production of the Postman Always Rings Twice.
Tone, a chain smoker, died of lung cancer in New York City on September 18, 1968. Crawford arranged for him to be cremated and his ashes scattered at Muskoka Lakes, Niagara Falls, Canada. However, Ferncliff Cemetery has no record of this and Tone's ashes are on a library shelf by works of Shakespeare with his son.
On February 8, 1960, Franchot Tone received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to the motion picture industry, located at 6558 Hollywood Blvd, on the south side of the 6500 block.
|1932||The Wiser Sex||Phil Long|
|1933||Today We Live||Ronnie|
|Gabriel Over the White House||Hartley "Beek" Beekman|
|Midnight Mary||Thomas "Tom" Mannering, Jr.|
|The Stranger's Return||Guy Crane|
|Stage Mother||Warren Foster|
|Dancing Lady||Tod Newton|
|1934||Moulin Rouge||Douglas Hall|
|Sadie McKee||Michael Alderson|
|The World Moves On||Richard Girard|
|The Girl from Missouri||T.R. Paige, Jr.||Alternative titles: 100 Per Cent Pure, Born to Be Kissed|
|Straight Is the Way||Benny|
|Gentlemen Are Born||Bob Bailey|
|1935||The Lives of a Bengal Lancer||Lieutenant Forsythe|
|One New York Night||Foxhall Ridgeway|
|Reckless||Robert "Bob" Harrison, Jr.|
|No More Ladies||Jim "Jimsy Boysie" Salston|
|Mutiny on the Bounty||Midshipman Roger Byam||Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor|
|1936||Exclusive Story||Dick Barton|
|The Unguarded Hour||Sir Alan Dearden|
|The King Steps Out||Emperor Franz Josef|
|The Gorgeous Hussy||John Eaton|
|Love on the Run||Barnabus W. "Barney" Pells|
|1937||Quality Street||Dr. Valentine Brown|
|They Gave Him a Gun||James "Jimmy" Davis|
|Between Two Women||Allan Meighan|
|The Bride Wore Red||Giulio|
|Love Is a Headache||Peter Lawrence|
|Three Comrades||Otto Koster|
|Three Loves Has Nancy||Robert "Bob" Hanson|
|The Girl Downstairs||Paul / Mr. Wagner|
|1939||Fast and Furious||Joel Sloane|
|1940||Trail of the Vigilantes||"Kansas" / Tim Mason|
|1941||Nice Girl?||Richard Calvert|
|She Knew All the Answers||Mark Willows|
|This Woman is Mine||Robert Stevens|
|1942||The Wife Takes a Flyer||Christopher Reynolds|
|Star Spangled Rhythm||John in Card-Playing Skit|
|1943||Five Graves to Cairo||Cpl. John J. Bramble / "Paul Davos"|
|Pilot No. 5||George Braynor Collins|
|His Butler's Sister||Charles Gerard|
|True to Life||Fletcher Marvin|
|1944||Phantom Lady||Jack Marlow|
|The Hour Before the Dawn||Jim Hetherton|
|Dark Waters||Dr. George Grover|
|1945||That Night with You||Paul Renaud|
|1946||Because of Him||Paul Taylor|
|1947||Lost Honeymoon||Johnny Gray|
|Her Husband's Affairs||William "Bill" Weldon|
|1948||I Love Trouble||Stuart Bailey|
|Every Girl Should Be Married||Roger Sanford|
|1949||Jigsaw||Howard Malloy||Alternative title: Gun Moll|
|Without Honor||Dennis Williams||Alternative title: Woman Accused|
|1950||The Man on the Eiffel Tower||Johann Radek||Co-producer|
|1951||Here Comes the Groom||Wilbur Stanley|
|1956||The Little Foxes||Horace||TV Movie|
|1957||Uncle Vanya||Dr. Astroff||Co-producer and co-director|
|1958||Bitter Heritage||Frank James||TV Movie|
|1961||Witchcraft||Your Host||TV Movie|
|1962||Advise & Consent||The President|
|1964||La bonne soupe||John K. Montasy Jr.|
|See How They Run||Baron Frood||TV Movie|
|1965||In Harm's Way||Admiral Kimmel|
|Mickey One||Rudy Lapp||Directed by Arthur Penn|
|1968||Shadow Over Elveron||Barney Conners||TV Movie|
|Nobody Runs Forever||Ambassador Townsend||Alternative title: The High Commissioner, (final film role)|
Partial TV creditsEdit
|1955||Four Star Playhouse||Ben Chaney||"Award"|
|1956||General Electric Theater||Charles Proteus Steinmetz||"Steinmetz"|
|1957||The Kaiser Aluminum Hour||Arthur Baldwin||"Throw Me a Rope"|
|1958||Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse||Candy Lombe||"The Crazy Hunter"|
|1959||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Oliver Mathews||"The Impossible Dream"|
|1960||Bonanza||Denver McKee||"Denver McKee"|
|1961||The Twilight Zone||Col. Archie Taylor||"The Silence"|
|1962–1967||Ben Casey||Dr. Daniel Niles Freeland||27 episodes|
|1964||The Alfred Hitchcock Hour||The Great Rudolph||"The Final Performance"|
|1965||The Virginian||Murdock||"Old Cowboy"|
|1967||Run for Your Life||Judge Taliaferro Wilson||"Tell It Like It Is"|
|October 19 – November 1927||The Belt||Bunner|
|November 29 – 1928||Centuries||Yankel|
|January 12 – February 1928||The International||David Fitch|
|November 27, 1928 – May 1929||The Age of Innocence||Newland Archer, Jr.|
|May 24 – 1929||Uncle Vanya||Mikhail lvovich Astrov|
|November 11 – December 1929||Cross Roads||Duke|
|December 17, 1929 – February 1930||Red Rust||Fedor|
|April 14 – June 1930||Hotel Universe||Tom Ames|
|October 20, 1930 – March 1931||Pagan Lady||Ernest Todd|
|January 26 – March 21, 1931||Green Grow the Lilacs||Curly McClain|
|September 28 – December 1931||The House of Connelly||Will Connelly|
|December 10, 1931 – December 1931||1931|
|March 9, 1932 – March 1932||Night Over Taos||Federico|
|May 24 – June 1932||A Thousand Summers||Neil Barton|
|September 26, 1932 – January 1933||Success Story||Raymond Merritt|
|January 5 – May 1939||The Gentle People||Harold Goff|
|March 6 – May 18, 1940||The Fifth Column||Philip Rawlings|
|February 7 – May 19, 1945||Hope for the Best||Michael Jordan|
|December 17, 1953 – November 13, 1954||Oh, Men! Oh, Women!||Alan Coles|
|January 19–30, 1955||The Time of Your Life||Joe|
|May 2 – June 29, 1957||A Moon for the Misbegotten||James Tyrone, Jr.|
|May 22–27, 1961||Mandingo||Warren Maxwell|
|March 11 – June 29, 1963||Strange Interlude||Professor Henry Leeds|
|September 24, 1963||Bicycle Ride to Nevada||Winston Sawyer|
|1952||Theatre Guild on the Air||The House of Mirth|
|1953||Broadway Playhouse||His Brother's Keeper|
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