Family & Companions
This likable blonde dancer-turned-thespian gained international attention as the frazzled, clueless but good-hearted mother to a trying but adorable brood in Steven Spielberg's kidflick classic "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982). As Mary, Stone (then billed as "Dee Wallace") managed to cope with the demands of work, single parenthood and first contact with alien life while maintaining a sense of humor. When the film broke all previous box-office records, she seemed a solid bet to become the movie Mom for modern America. But it was not to be. Stone remained a steadily working actress in some films and much TV but never again headlined such a high-profile project. Before and after "E.T.," she fared best in several low- and medium-budget thrillers helmed by some interesting genre filmmakers. Otherwise, Stone has most often been seen in guest shots, undistinguished telefilms and youth-oriented specials, more often than not, still playing long-suffering mothers.
Born Deanna Bowers in Kansas City, MO, and raised in Kansas City, KS, she was encouraged to perform by her parents. At age eight, Stone wore the coveted Imperial Margarine crown ("I feel like a queen!") for a TV commercial. As a young adult, she earned an undergraduate degree as a double major in theater and education, then taught a year of high school English while directing local plays. Around 1972, Stone whimsically contacted legendary Broadway producer-director Hal Prince, mailing a letter and a photo and asking for an audition. Her gambit worked; Prince invited her to NYC to audition for his production of the Stephen Sondheim musical "A Little Night Music." Trained as a dancer, Stone lacked the necessary singing skills and failed to win the role. Still, she remained in NYC where she landed the coveted position of a lead dancer with the Milliken Show, a traveling industrial product presentation starring Gwen Verdon and Robert Morse. This gig got Stone her Equity card and lead to a busy career in commercials. Traveling with the show to Los Angeles, she broke into TV with a series of guest spots.
Stone's first feature appearance was the small role of a maid in "The Stepford Wives" (1975). She had more screen time as the married elder daughter of a family beset by mutant savages in Wes Craven's grueling "The Hills Have Eyes" (1977). Stone's next feature appearance was a strong supporting role in Blake Edwards' hit comedy "10" (1979) as a lonely woman Dudley Moore meets in a bar. Her first starring role, arguably her best, came in Joe Dante's "The Howling" (1980), a superior horror-comedy (scripted by John Sayles) that linked werewolves and the self-help movement. Stone was compelling and credible as an intrepid TV news anchorwoman who goes out into the field to help catch a psycho killer--with surprising results. After "E.T.," she had had one more starring film role of note: playing the adulterous mother who finds herself trapped with her young son in a disabled car beset by a rabid St. Bernard in "Cujo" (1983), a superior Stephen King adaptation. More than a decade later, she was quite good in a supporting role in New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson's rousing US film debut, "The Frighteners" (1996) playing a troubled reclusive woman with a dark secret.
Cast (Feature Film)
Dance (Feature Film)
Casting (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Sent a letter, photo and audition request to Broadway producer Hal Prince (date approximate)
TV-movie debut, "The Sky's No Limit"
Film debut, played the small role of a maid in "The Stepford Wives"
First substantial supporting film role, Wes Craven's "The Hills Have Eyes"
First feature starring role, Joe Dante's "The Howling"; first film collaboration with future husband Christopher Stone
Played Elliot's divorced mother in Steven Spielberg's domestic box-office champ, "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial"
Co-starred with husband Stone in the Stephen King adaptation "Cujo"
Debut as TV series regular, co-starred with Elliot Gould in the short-lived CBS family sitcom, "Together We Stand"; series went on hiatus after a month
Reprised her role from "Together We Stand" in the failed retooled sitcom (without Gould) "Nothing is Easy"
Co-starred with Stone as the parents in "The New Adventures of Lassie", a syndicated revival series
Returned to features after a five year absence to play a supporting role in "Popcorn", a horror-comedy
Reteamed with director Joe Dante for the <i>Runaway Daughters</i> installment of Showtime's "Rebel Highway"
Played a regular in the NBC summer replacement adventure series "High Sierra Search and Rescue"
First role in a major film in over a decade, played a traumatized recluse in Peter Jackson's "The Frighteners"
Guest-starred on the WB's "Felicity"
Cast on the ABC series, "Sons & Daughters"
Cast in Rob Zombie's remake of the classic horror film "Halloween"