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A Film by Michael Kantor

THE STARS

Composers, Lyricists & Writers

Peter Stone

Peter Stone was an acclaimed Tony- and Oscar-winning writer who began in TV and moved to motion pictures and the theater. The son of a schoolteacher turned motion picture producer, Stone was raised in L.A., and after heading east for schooling, began his career in live TV. He went on to script such well-received motion pictures as CHARADE (1963) and FATHER GOOSE (1964, for which he won an Academy Award) and has provided the book for several Broadway musicals, notably “1776” (1969) and “Woman of the Year” (1981).

Stone’s theatrical work began in 1958 when his play, “Friend of the Family,” was produced in St. Louis. By 1961, he had written the book for the unsuccessful Broadway musical “Kean.” His second venture, “Skyscraper” (1965), also didn’t fare well at the box office. His first real success was “1776,” an unlikely but powerful musical about the creation and signing of the Declaration of Independence. Winning the Tony as Best Musical, it had a healthy run on Broadway and was a modest success in London. Stone adapted Clifford Odets’ “The Flowering Peach,” about Noah and the ark, as a musical vehicle for Danny Kaye, with a score by Richard Rodgers. He later adapted the classic 1959 Billy Wilder film SOME LIKE IT HOT as “Sugar” (1972), which earned mixed reviews, and turned the 1942 Tracy-Hepburn comedy WOMAN OF THE YEAR into a 1981 star vehicle for Lauren Bacall. His polish of the book for “My One and Only” (1983) helped solidify Tommy Tune’s reputation, and Stone reportedly did uncredited work on Tune’s staging of “Grand Hotel” in 1990. He and Tune again collaborated on the award-winning “The Will Rogers Follies” in 1992, and Stone wrote the poorly reviewed “Titanic” in 1997.

Peter Stone

Born: February 27, 1930
Died: April 26, 2003
Key Shows
  • "My One and Only"
  • "1776"
  • "Sugar"
  • "Titanic"
  • "Two by Two"
  • "The Will Rodgers Follies"
  • "Woman of the Year"
Related Artists
  • Kander and Ebb
  • Joshua Logan
  • David Merrick
  • Brian Stokes Mitchell
  • Robert Morse
  • Bernadette Peters
  • Richard Rodgers
  • Jule Styne
  • Tommy Tune
  • Tony Walton

His first real success was “1776.”

In motion pictures, Stone was a success almost immediately. His first produced screenplay, CHARADE (1963), which he also novelized, was a mystery with romance that paired Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. It offered more twists, turns, and surprises than one might think a movie could hold as a bevy of unsavory characters try to discover where Hepburn’s deceased husband hid $250,000. Oddly, Stone won the Academy Award for his next screenplay, FATHER GOOSE, again starring Grant as a beach bum turned lookout for the Australians during World War II who doubles as a guardian of schoolgirls. Although the 1964 film was well received, it garnered neither the critical acclaim of CHARADE nor the box office success. Stone continued to excel at adaptations, with the musical SWEET CHARITY (1969) and THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1-2-3 (1980), based on the mystery novel about a nefarious gang who hijack a subway train. Later came WHY WOULD I LIE? (1980), which put Treat Williams as a social worker trying to unite a youth with his ex-con mother. Stone took a long sojourn from the big screen until JUST CAUSE (1995), which starred Sean Connery as a famed law professor trying to prove Blair Underwood innocent of a crime for which he was convicted.

The writer’s small-screen work dates back to an episode of STUDIO ONE (CBS, 1956), and also includes episodes of THE DEFENDERS (CBS, 1961-62). Stone was involved in the creation of the TV adaptation of ADAM’S RIB (ABC, 1973-74), a sitcom based on the 1949 Tracy-Hepburn classic, and IVAN THE TERRIBLE (CBS, 1976), a short-lived but witty series with Lou Jacobi as the head of an extended Moscow. Stone also adapted George Bernard Shaw’s ANDROCLES AND THE LION (NBC, 1968) and penned GRAND LARCENY, a 1989 syndicated TV movie about a female master thief. Stone has also appeared on talk shows and retrospectives, and was a frequent panelist on the PBS show THE WEEK IN REVIEW.

Source: Excerpted from Baseline. BaselineStudioSystems — A Hollywood Media Corp. Company.

Photo credits: Photofest