Franchot Tone was the son of a wealthy industrialist, sophisticated, charming and handsome. He was first bitten by the acting bug while attending Cornell University, and went on to establish a promising reputation on Broadway.
Once under contract to MGM. however, he found himself lumbered with a series of playboy roles, usually as the hero’s best friend. This was even true of his two best movies, in The Lives of a Bengal Lancer he was Gary Cooper’s flippant but true-blue brother officer, and in Mutiny on the Bounty he was the wet-behind-the-ears Midshipman Byam, driven by Bligh’s cruelty to join Fletcher Christian.
At one time Tone was seventh in the list of most popular Hollywood stars, but his stock began to slip in the Forties and Fifties. He was married four times, his wives including the actresses Joan Crawford, Jean Wallace and Barbara Peyton.
In the latter part of his career he was widely rumoured to have a drinking problem and received some bad publicity following an ugly bar-room brawl with actor Tom Neal. He returned to New York and produced an adaptation of Uncle Vanya, which he later filmed, and finally won some interesting character roles in the early Sixties.
Tone was born in 1903 and died in 1968.
Key films include
1932: The Wiser Sex
1935: The Lives of a Bengal Lancer
1935: Mutiny on the Bounty
1936: The King Steps Out
1938: Three Comrades
1943: Five Craves to Cairo
1944: Phantom Lady
1958: Uncle Vanya
1962: Advise and Consent
1965: Mickey One
1968: Nobody Runs Forever