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Dorothy Stone

Biography: 

(1905-1974)

Daughter of Fred Stone, the foremost acrobatic comedian in early 20th-century theater, Dorothy Stone was nineteen when she received her first Broadway credit, appearing with her father in the Jerome Kern musical, "Stepping Stones." She followed up playing the lead, Dolly Day, the heroine in 1926's "Criss Cross," in which her father rescues her on a trapeze, while she warbles Kern melodies. Fred & Dorothy were slated to star in 1928's "Three Cheers," but illness sidelined the aging tumbler and Will Rogers stepped in to keep the show on the board for 210 performances.

Dorothy was nothing if not loyal to family. She starred with her father in two musicals in the 1930s, and her husband, dancer Charles Collins, on two occasions. A versatile performer, her industry in improving her from show to show was noted by reviewers; by 1932 she had trained herself to be one of the distinctive musical comedy stylists in New York. She was celebrated for her spirited dancing - "very blithe and handsome" - exhibiting a certain amount of coyness with both her partners and her audience. Producers regarded her a trooper, and she was first on the call list when a temperamental leading lady exited.

In 1929 Stone took over the lead of "Showgirl" after Ruby Keeler quit with Stone revitalizing a flagging show. She took over for Marilyn Miller in "As Thousands Cheer." Her resilience and "can-do" spirit apparently were a lifelong attribute. In 1921, when working as an acrobatic rider in a Wild West Show with her father, she was kicked by a horse during the matinee. The sixteen-year-old performer, despite her bruises, performed in the evening show.

When not performing in musicals during the 1930s she was a vaudeville headliner. Her final Broadway lead was in a wildly successful 1945 revival of Victor Herbert's "The Red Mill." Her film career was not auspicious, but some sense of her talent is evident in scenes from 1934's "Paree Paree." David S. Shields/ALS