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Lewis Stone’s Death and Funeral…

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jun 15th, 2009
2009
Jun 15

CELEBRITY DEATHS AND FUNERALS

Lewis Stone

 Lewis Stone

 
By Allan R. Ellenberger

  

A former Broadway matinee idol and cavalry officer, Lewis Stone was, for the last 35 years of his life, one of the leading film actors in Hollywood. A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Stone made the stage his career after completing his college education. He had made considerable headway in the theater when he was called into the Spanish American War.

 

After the war, Stone returned to Broadway with a role in Sidetracked, which made him a star and a matinee idol within a matter of months. Subsequent plays such as The Girl of the Golden West and The Bird of Paradise – popular plays of the time – gave him the chance to master his craft.

 

One of the first actors from the legitimate stage to see the possibilities in movies, Stone made his first major screen appearance in 1915 in Honor’s Altar, which was directed by Thomas Ince. Stone’s popularity soared in the new medium and he soon won roles in other silent films. Among his better known credits were The Prisoner of Zenda (1922), Scaramouche (1923) and The Girl from Montmartre (1926). He received a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for the 1928 film, The Patriot.

 

Lewis Stone and Alice Hollister

Lewis Stone and Alice Hollister in Milestone (1920)

 

It was after the advent of sound that he reached his greatest popularity as Judge Hardy in the Andy Hardy series with Mickey Rooney. He spent most of his years as a screen actor with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer where his credits included Mata Hari (1931), China Seas (1935) and Three Wise Fools (1946).

 

Lewis Stone - Andy Hardy

Lewis Stone (left, front row) and his Andy Hardy family

 

In September 1953 Stone was preparing to accept a role in a forthcoming Paramount production of Sabrina (1954) starring Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart and was awaiting the arrival of the script. At the time, the Stones were being annoyed by a group of boys who would take midnight swims in their pool and toss furniture in afterward.

 

Lewis Stone residence

The former residence of Lewis Stone

 

On the evening of Saturday, September 12, 1953, Stone and his third wife Hazel, were watching television at their home at 455 S. Lorraine Boulevard when they heard a racket in the back yard. When he investigated, Stone found lawn furniture once again floating in the pool and glimpsed three or perhaps four teenage boys running towards the street. Stone gave chase despite his wife’s warning not to exert himself.

 

Upon reaching the sidewalk, Stone suddenly collapsed. A gardener, Juan Vergara witnessed the chase and summoned aid. Sadly the actor died of a heart attack on the sidewalk without regaining consciousness. Lewis Stone was 73.

 

Lewis Stone sidewalk

 The sidewalk where Lewis Stone died

 

Within the hour, police took three boys, one of them 13 and the other two 15, into custody and booked them on suspicion of malicious mischief. They told officers that they previously had taken a swim in the pool and “thought it would be funny if they threw the furniture into it” because Stone had chased them before. After being booked at the Wilshire Station, they were lectured by police before being released to the custody of their parents pending possible Juvenile Court action.

 

Lewis Stone was survived by his third wife, Hazel (Wolf) and two daughters Virginia and Barbara.

 

Stone’s funeral was held at his home on Wednesday, September 16. Last rites were conducted by Dr. Ernest Holmes, founder of the Institute of Religious Science, in the ballroom of the Stone home. More than 100 invited friends including film executives, producers, directors and actors occupied the ballroom and the adjoining paneled library beneath a replica of a Raphael Madonna.

 

Lewis Stones funeral

Pallbearers carry the casket of Lewis Stone into his home for the funeral. Compare with the photo below and notice the same doorway, window and columns.

 

Lewis Stone residence

 

“A great friend, a great citizen, a great artist has left us,” said Dr. Holmes. “To know this man was to admire and to love him.” He said that Stone was a religious man whose philosophy was that “not some people but all people are immortal.”

 

Among those present were executives of MGM including Louis B. Mayer, Dore Schary, Edward J. Mannix, producer Jack Cummings, and many others.

 

Mayer, actors Robert Young and Charles Ruggles and agent Fred Fralick were among the pallbearers. Also present were Mickey Rooney, Fay Holden and Celia Parker who played Stone’s family in the Andy Hardy series. 

 

Dozens of other actors who worked with Stone were there – Louis Calhern, Ralph Morgan, Russell Simpson, Donald Crisp, Otto Krueger, Marjorie Rambeau and many more. Directors who guided him in his film productions such as Mervyn LeRoy, Frank Lloyd and Robert Z. Leonard were present.

 

Dr. Holmes in his brief service quoted poems that were favorites of Stone, including the “Good-Night, Sweet Prince” passage from Hamlet that is the requiem for actors. Singer John Gary sang “Abide With Me” and “The Lord’s Prayer.”

 

Stone’s body was taken to Rosedale Cemetery where it was cremated. His ashes are listed as being sent to Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York where he purchased a lot in 1914. His first wife Margaret and two daughters are buried there unmarked, but his ashes, according to his daughter, were scattered over his ranch in Malibu.

 

Stone’s estate which was valued at $150,000 was left entirely to his widow, Hazel. The will, dated February 18, 1935, explained that everything was left to Hazel, and nothing to his two daughters because they had been well provided for under insurance policies. Stone’s friend and attorney, Lloyd Wright, was named executor. Wright’s probate petition estimated the estate’s income as $3,500 a year.

 

Walter Hampden took over the role of Oliver Larrabee in Sabrina that was originally intended for Stone.

 

NOTE: The address above is a private residence. Please DO NOT disturb the occupants.

 ___________________________________________

 

22 Responses

  1. RODAN Says:

    Alan, very interesting article. What a sad ending to such an illustrious career and good life. I can’t imagine anyone from the era that I would have enjoyed interviewing more. What great stories he could have told.

    Thanks
    RODAN

  2. TierraDelFuego Says:

    Compliments Alan. The style and content of your celebrity biography pages are a standard for others to follow.

  3. Andre Says:

    Well, how about Rex Ingram as an interview subject?
    Think of the stories *he* would have to tell.

  4. Graceann Says:

    What a gorgeous home! Is it still privately owned? It looks large enough to be a museum.
    __________
    A. — I believe it’s privately owned. There was some renovation going on as you can see in one of the photos. If its owned by an organization there are no signs to say so. It is still a residential area. — Allan

  5. Scott Groll Says:

    This house should look familiar. It is “Los Tiempos,” the home of Norman and Dorothy Chandler, of L.A. Times and Music Center fame. The Chandlers bought the house in 1955 from Mrs. Stone. Additionally, the house was built in 1913 for Peter Janss, who developed Westwood Village. The architect: none other than Julia Morgan, who designed W.R. Hearst’s castle home in San Simeon.
    ______________
    A. — Thanks Scott for that additional information. It’s fascinating to know the history and such well-known people.

  6. Lisa Burks Says:

    Having heard this very sad story it’s a real treat to see it not only well illustrated but, as usual, expertly written/told. Thank you for remembering Lewis Stone and explaining the final chapter of his life, Allan!
    ___________
    Thanks Lisa :-)

  7. d.w. Says:

    another beautifully written piece about a member of Hollywood. i never knew this story, but enjoyed his work so much.

    Brilliant Job Allan!
    _________
    Thank you! – Allan

  8. Wendy Says:

    Great job as always Allan.
    _________
    Thanks Wendy. – Allan

  9. Steve Goldstein Says:

    Since my best information about this until now comes from Hollywood Babylon, I am happy to read the whole true story, and the additional info on the house provided by Scott Groll adds even more dimension. You guys are the greatest! Thanks for your passion!

  10. Lynn Says:

    Excellently researched, written and illustrated, Allan. I’ve become another fan of yours. Lynn

  11. Anne-Marie Desautels Says:

    Lewis Stone was an exceptional human being ,and a versatile actor. His role as jugde Hardy in the Andy Hardy series is unforgettable. Thanks, Anne-Marie.

  12. Marianne Luban Says:

    I just came across this website and thank Allan for his piece about Lewis Stone, one of the very few actors from my youth whom I’ll love until I die. Not that I was even born during the period when Stone made the “Andy Hardy” series but that sums up the immortality that comes with being a great screen actor–being able to win the hearts of generations to come.

    I’m sure Lewis Stone must have been effective in the silents, but they were missing his voice, an important aspect of his persona. However, it can’t be denied that the role of Judge Hardy allowed the actor to shine in the best possible way and also rescued him from acting oblivion. Anybody who has seen him in “Grand Hotel”, for instance, will scarcely be able to believe the waste of artistry there.

    Anyway, Lewis Stone and Mickey Rooney were a perfect combination–played off one another in a magical way. Of course, Stone was the dad America wished every father could be but, from a woman’s point of view, was also handsome, terribly charming, and even sexy. Look at his face when he supposedly sees lovely little Kathryn Grayson for the first time in “Andy Hardy’s Private Secretary”. Lewis Stone really wasn’t that old in 1941!

    Yet…it’s too bad Stone couldn’t summon up the wisdom of Judge Hardy on that fateful night. Any man of 73 who thinks he can catch up with fleeing young kids on foot is just kidding himself–or has the temperament of an actor instead of a jurist. Sleep well, then, sweet prince. You were, to quote some lyrics from the musical “Kismet”:

    “All that can stir, all that can stun,
    All that’s for the heart’s uplifting”

  13. Mandy Osborne Says:

    Thank you for the information. I knew very little about Lewis Stone before reading it- i am doing some family research as i believe i am a descendant of his. My great-grandmother was born Angelina Stone in South Wales (U.K)My Aunt said she thought he was Angelina’s second cousin. Must see some of his films.

  14. jess Says:

    Is this property of Stone’s the one where his ashes were scattered?

    http://articles.latimes.com/2012/sep/06/business/la-fi-hotprop-lewis-stone-20120906
    ______________________________
    IT COULD BE THIS ONE NOT SURE. I BELIEVE HE WAS SCATTERED AT HIS MALIBU HOME. THIS COULD BE THE SAME HOUSE. THANKS.

  15. Ken Says:

    But what ultimately happened to the teenagers? Were they punished? Are they alive today? Were they contrite?

  16. JV Says:

    Interesting info about his estate. $150k in the early 1950s would be about 1,300,000 in todays money. Those Andy Hardy films must have made him more money but war taxes and the depression took a toll on his finances like everyone else at the time.

  17. Hugh Says:

    Does anyone know if there are any living decendants of lewis Stone as I believe I am a relative to him (pictures of my grandfather kook very similar) in the Uk and would like to know if there are any survivors of the family in US.

    If anyone has any information I would be most grateful.

    To Mandy Osborne it looks as if we have a common relative and goal, I also live in South Wales maybe we can contact?

  18. Hugh Says:

    Message for Mandy Osborne I am also a relative of Lewis Stone and live in South Wales would be interetted in sharing information.

    Also does anyone know if there are surviving members of his family in the US

  19. hugh Says:

    I believe I am a relative of Lewis Stone as my family name is stone on my mothers side and it is part of family history that we are related, believe my grandfather was 2nd cousin, he looked very similar in later life.

    Would be interested in contacting any possible relatives here in South Wales or US.

  20. Hugh Says:

    Message for Mandy Osborne, I think I can make a connection, my grandfather had a sister I knew her as aunty Angie, could she be the same Angelinia as your grandmother? as she was born in Pontypool/Griffithstown South Wales.

  21. Melissa Says:

    I am facinated with Lewis Stone. He introduced an early MGM Parade & you could tell he was well respected by MGM.

  22. Mandy Osborne Says:

    Message for Hugh. I am amazed to read your reply! We are certainly related as the info you give on Angelina is so accurate. Maybe you remember her children Clarice and Ken? Clarice was my grandma. I also remember Angelina (gran) who lived with my grandparents in Griffithstown when I was a kid. The ‘Stones’ always had white hair which makes me believe Lewis Stone was related. We must try to establish who went to USA and when. What’s the name of your grandfather?
    Info on the siblings & including gran to my knowledge: Eva, Angelina,Tom,MaryAnn,Joe,Benjamin (also twins died). Parents Thomas and Harriet.
    Have just ordered a copy of ‘Grand Hotel’ to watch Lewis Stone in action. Please let me know your grandfathers name. Will watch this site!!
    A

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