Ezra Stone was an American actor and director who had a long career on the stage, in films, radio, and television, mostly as a director. His most notable role as an actor was that of the awkwardly mischievous teenager Henry Aldrich in the radio comedy hit, The Aldrich Family, for most of its fourteen-year run.
Born Ezra Chaim Feinstone in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Stone studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and began his professional career on stage in the mid-1930s, when he was first tapped to play Henry Aldrich in the Clifford Goldsmith play, What a Life. Goldsmith then brought Henry and his family to sketches for popular radio series featuring singers Rudy Vallee and Kate Smith, before the sketches’ popularity moved NBC to give Goldsmith a chance to develop a full half-hour comedy as a summer replacement for Jack Benny in 1938.
By 1939, The Aldrich Family had become a hit series in its own right; Katherine Raht’s opening bellow and Stone’s adenoidal reply, fashioned at first by Kate Smith’s director Bob Welsh, became the show’s instant trademarks. House Jameson played stern but affectionate father Sam Aldrich.
In one way, the show and its star were deceptive, according to radio historian Gerald Nachman: like Fanny Brice, who played five- or six-year-old Baby Snooks for over two decades, Ezra Stone didn’t exactly resemble a clumsy teenager, either.