The Unfamous of Hollywood — George E. Stone — Out of Horror into Happiness (1934) 🇺🇸
You have seen him in half-a-hundred screen thrillers — but never in one which boasted a story more dramatic than that of his own life!
George E. Stone has known terror, hunger, despair and tragedy. He has also known great happiness.
by Eric L. Ergenbright
Let’s turn back the clock nearly thirty years, to one bitterly cold, winter’s evening in Lodz, Russia. George, then, was only six years old, but already he was a wage earner, toiling twelve long hours each day in the silk mills. His wage was pitiful — approximately five cents a week — but it was the difference between existence and starvation to him, his mother and his four sisters. Such abject poverty as theirs is beyond the American’s experience or imagination, even in these times of depression.
On that tragic day, as he trudged homeward from bis work, he heard a pistol shot... another... another... and then volley after volley. He heard the screams of his fellow Jews. He heard the thunder of galloping horses and savage shouts of the Czar’s cossacks.
A pogrom! The wild riders of the steppes were again at their favorite sport of Jew-slaughter!
Paralyzed by terror, the child lingered in the narrow street. Too late, he darted toward the shelter of an open doorway — and fell, desperately wounded, under the dripping saber of a blood-drunk horseman.
George E. Stone still carries a terrible scar — and terrible memories — as souvenirs of that horrible day in Lodz.
Driven by constant persecution, his father had fled several years before to the United States, promising to send for his family as soon as he could save the passage money. George was eight years old when the money finally arrived — but his journey to America soon became a hegira of tragedy and hardship.
They could not secure passports from either Russia or Poland and, consequently, had to be smuggled into Germany. His mother, his sisters and he rode part of the way, hidden in a load of hay. They walked, then, and had to wade across icy streams.
They reached America and thought their troubles ended — only to be turned hack at Ellis Island because George’s younger sister was suffering from an affliction of the eyes!
Heartbroken, they returned to Russia, and waited there for two more years. Again they were smuggled into Germany, again they sailed for America — and again they were turned back at Ellis Island!
George’s mother died, a victim of their endless disappointments, soon after their second return to Lodz.
A third time, their father sent passage money, and a third time George and his sisters set sail for America. This time they were permitted to land. They found that their father had remarried — and that their step-mother bitterly resented their presence.
George stood her cruelties for nearly a year, and then ran away. For days he went without food as he searched for work. And then — bonanza! — a job. A bench in a New York sweat-shop and a princely salary of five dollars a week!
Nearly three years of sweat-shop toil and then Fortune decided to smile. He was offered a job as a bellboy in the Lambs’ Club and only a few weeks after taking it, William Farnum, then at the peak of his fame, offered him a chance to play extra bits in the old Fort Lee Studios.
Since then George has been an actor — a very great actor, as you will agree if you saw his superb characterization as Sol Levy in “Cimarron.”
Source: New Movie Magazine, February 1934
This article is part of our Unfamous of Hollywood series: Gilmor Brown, Natalie Bucknell, Bebe Daniels & Pauline Gallagher, Howard Dietz, Elmer Dyer, George Hurrell, Billy Hill, Sally Rand, Murray Spivack, George E. Stone