Welcome to my blog, featuring various pieces from my collection of Oz books, artwork and memorabilia!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

David Montgomery

Fred Stone and David Montgomery became stars with the success of their roles as the Scarecrow and Tin Man in the 1903 Broadway hit, The Wizard of Oz. Stone lived a long life (1873-1959), raised a family and went on to appear in a number of stage productions, in some cases together with his daughters Dorothy and Paula, as well as films. On the other hand, Montgomery died rather suddenly in 1917 at the age of 47.

At the time, the duo was starring and touring in Chin Chin, a musical comedy loosely based on the story of Aladdin, but Montgomery's death ended the run of the show. Stone declared he would never take another partner but only work solo from then on - although there were rumors that he considered teaming with Frank Moore, who had been the star of another Oz production, The Tik-Tok Man of Oz. In this show Moore played the Shaggy Man - a variation on Fred Stone's Scarecrow! However, Stone was true to his word and did not take on another partner.

Montgomery joined a medicine show at age 16, and appeared in minstrel shows before joining with Stone in 1894. Stone was described as tall and gangly, whereas Montgomery was shorter and seemed to be known as "the little fellow" - so they would have made an amusing visual pair. Stone and his wife managed to get to the hospital before Montgomery's death - Chin Chin was playing in Montreal at the time, and Stone left the evening performance during the second act to get to Chicago, where Montgomery had been hospitalized.

Montgomery never married. Many articles were written at the time of his death, including a very sentimental one about the effect it would have on little Dorothy Stone, Fred Stone's daughter, who would miss her Uncle Craig - apparently Montgomery preferred using his middle name among friends and family. He was preceded in death by his father and an actor brother known as "Scamp", and also had a married sister. One article refers to the "other world in which he moved, that of the racetrack", and Stone mentions Montgomery's love of the ponies in his autobiography - summer vacations of trips to England and the continent were a regular occurrence, before returning to the theater for the fall season. Here's a very brief (all of 5 seconds) film clip of Montgomery & Stone:
video

I've been unable to find any mention of what he died of - only that he was in hospital for about a month. In an obituary of Montgomery in the New York Tribune, the writer specifically remembers the Tin Man as "the armor plated, comically dolorous figure in search of a heart. He found the object of his quest - it was large and red and made of plush, and the Wizard used a can opener to insert it."

1 comment:

Hungry Tiger Talk said...

I have a copy of Montgomery's death certificate, and as I recall, he died of complication from a ruptured appendix. Don't quote me on that till I check the DC but that's what I recall.