George E. Stone
George E. Stone was a character actor in movies, radio, and television.
Stone’s slight build and very expressive face first attracted attention in 1927, in the popular silent-film romance Seventh Heaven. Originally billed as Georgie Stone, he made a successful transition to talking pictures in Warner Bros.’ Tenderloin, speaking in a pleasant, slightly nasal tenor. Stone was then typecast in streetwise roles, often playing a Runyonesque mobster or a gangland boss’s assistant. He was best known as Rico Bandello’s right-hand man Otero in the gangster classic Little Caesar. He adopted a dapper pencil moustache for these screen roles. One of his most famous appearances was in the classic musical 42nd Street, in which wiseguy Stone assesses a promiscuous chorus girl: “She only said no once, and then she didn’t hear the question!” His one starring film was Universal Pictures’ gangster comedy The Big Brain.
In 1939 comedy producer Hal Roach hired Stone for his film The Housekeeper’s Daughter. It was a difficult role: Stone had to play a mentally retarded murderer in a sweet, sympathetic manner. Stone went clean-shaven, emphasizing a boyish, innocent look, and played the part so sensitively that Roach often cast him in other films. In 1942 Stone burlesqued Hirohito in Roach’s wartime comedy The Devil with Hitler.
George E. Stone’s most familiar role was “The Runt,” loyal sidekick to adventurous ex-criminal Boston Blackie in Columbia Pictures’ action-comedies. Stone was supposed to co-star with Chester Morris in the first film of the series, Meet Boston Blackie, but was sidelined by a virus. Actor Charles Wagenheim filled in for him, and Stone joined the series in the second entry, Confessions of Boston Blackie. Stone’s performances in the Blackies were well received, and he enthusiastically played scenes for laughs. Both Chester Morris and George E. Stone reprised their screen roles for one year in the Boston Blackie radio series.