Tuesday, December 22, 2009

RIP Marianne Stone

December 23, 2009

Marianne Stone: actress who appeared in Seven Days to Noon

Marianne Stone was destined to become one of Britain’s busiest and most effective character actresses the moment she left RADA, with the prestigious Gertrude Lawrence Award for Character Acting under her arm. She did not disappoint and during more than 50 years in the profession notched up hundreds of stage and screen appearances.

Although rarely offered more than pint-sized roles, with few lines to match, she made an impact with her presence alone, becoming a popular face within the industry. A resourceful actress, Stone was capable of playing more substantial roles than those offered, but was content specialising in cameos because it fitted in with her family life. Admitting that she never regarded acting as a career, just a “pleasurable extra”, she made a living portraying waitresses, barmaids, shop assistants and other working-class roles. She worked for many of the most celebrated film directors of the day, including the Boulting Brothers, who employed her in several productions, such as the 1950 thriller, Seven Days to Noon.

Playing a woman in a phone box, Stone remembered the film with mixed feelings. After finishing a night shoot in London, the cast headed to a cafĂ© for a full English breakfast. Exhausted, and pregnant with her first daughter, Stone tagged along but fell violently ill and spent two hours sprawled across the back seat of Roy Boulting’s car while she recovered.

Marianne Stone was born in King’s Cross, London, in 1922, and was raised by her grandparents, who owned several furniture shops in the area. From a musical household, her grandmother also ran her own music school, with more than 100 pupils. Although Stone won a music scholarship to the Camden School for Girls, followed by a place at the Royal College of Music, she harboured dreams of becoming an actress, but before achieving her goal, she studied shorthand and typing and worked as a bank clerk.

Life as an office worker was short-lived: she won a London County Council scholarship to RADA in 1940 and after graduating, Stone gained valuable experience as assistant stage manager at the Intimate Theatre, Palmers Green, London. She made her West End debut in 1945, in The King Maker and, two years later, made her first screen appearance as a shop assistant in the Betty Box-produced When the Bough Breaks. By the end of 1947 she had played a peppery waitress in Brighton Rock and appeared with husband-to-be, Peter Noble, in Escape Dangerous. Film offers were soon rolling in: she played a WAAF in the war film, Angels One Five, a distressed woman in Private’s Progress, a secretary in Quatermass II, a nurse in Hell Drivers and a tea-bar attendant in Just My Luck, while in Person Unknown she shared top billing for the one and only time.

Reflecting on her performance as Mrs Cusick, Stone remarked: “It was a good role, but one of the few because most of my other jobs were simply bits and pieces.” Playing cameo roles meant she moved quickly between films and was able to clock up a staggering 13 films in 1963 alone.

Stone appeared in nine Carry on films, beginning with her role as Alice Able in Carry on Nurse. The producer Peter Rogers would always try to find a part for Stone, while the director Gerald Thomas described her as “very eloquent and good in her roles”.

But her favourite job on the big screen was Vivian Darkbloom in Lolita, the story of a middle-aged lecturer who falls in love with a 14-year-old girl and marries her mother to be near his sweetheart. The American character actress Shelley Winters, who was staying with Stone during filming, helped her to secure the part. Winters told Stone that the director Stanley Kubrick was searching for someone to play Vivian, so donning a long black wig, black shiny raincoat, black stockings and plenty of heavy black make-up, she went along to see Kubrick. Suitably impressed, he offered her the role.

Marianne Stone remained in high demand until the 1980s and subsequently continued to make occasional television appearance in shows such as Bless This House, Secret Army, Return of the Saint and The Nineteenth Hole.

Her husband, the film critic Peter Noble, predeceased her. She is survived by two daughters.

Marianne Stone, actress, was born on August 23, 1922. She died on December 21, 2009, aged 87

STONE, Marianne
Born: 8/23/1922, Kings Cross, London, England, U.K.
Died: 12/21/2009, England, U.K.

Marianne Stone's western - actress:
Rocky Mountain - 1950 (stage passenger)

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