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Oliver Stone

Filmmaker

Oliver Stone

BIOGRAPHY

Director, Screenwriter, Producer
Date of Birth: September 15th, 1946
Place of Birth: New York, N.Y., USA
Sign: Virgo
Education: Yale University, New York University Film School
Agent:
Creative Artists Agency
2000 Avenue of the Stars
Los Angeles CA 90067, USA
Tel.: (424) 288.2000  (310-288-4545 Bryan Lourd)
Fax.: (424.288.2900
Business Contact:
Ixtlan Productions
12233 W. Olympic Blvd., Ste. 322
Los Angeles, CA 90064, USA
Phone: 310.826.7080 Fax: 310.826.7090
Type: Motion Pictures and Television
Personal quote: Looking back at my life now, I realize that it was the Dream that propelled me forward into all my memorable actions-the Dream allowed me to believe I could do certain things in my life, as impossible as they seemed, like go to war, go to sea, make love to exotic women, have children I could create and love as ongoing reincarnations, and make movie illusions that others would see.

Oliver Stone is one of a handful of true artists left in modern cinema who will almost always place a greater importance on the craft rather than economic considerations. He has written, directed, and produced such popular and sometimes controversial masterpieces as Any Given Sunday, Nixon, Heaven & Earth, and Born on the Fourth of July. He has also written and directed Platoon, JFK, Salvador, Natural Born Killers, The Doors, Wall Street, and Talk Radio.

Oliver Stone was born in New York City on September 15, 1946. His father, Lou Stone, was a native, atheistic born Jewish stockbroker. During his successful career, Lou also wrote and published a monthly investors' newsletter focused on economics and politics. Jacqueline Stone, Oliver's mother, was a very optimistic upper class Catholic French woman. 

The Stone family was wealthy and lived in townhouses in Manhattan and Stamford, Connecticut. Oliver's parents were very much into the social scene and he spent much of his childhood raised by nannies. At the age of five, Oliver was already writing marionette-style skits in which he cast his cousins. At the age of seven he was writing stories, which his father would pay him a quarter a piece for. By the young age of nine, Oliver began to write a nine-hundred-page book about his family and life in general.

He attended Trinity School, an elite school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and later attended the Hill School, a college preparatory academy in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. During summer break, Stone would regularly spend his vacation with his maternal grandparents in France. To his dismay, during his junior year of high school in 1961, at the age of 15, Stone's parents divorced. Oliver then came to the realization that his parents had been growing apart for some time. His father had been having several affairs with the wives of his friends as well as friends of Jacqueline's. 

Lou was having great financial troubles and was headed towards bankruptcy. He disclosed to Oliver that he was deeply in debt, and informed him that he would pay for Oliver's college education, but otherwise he was on his own. This was a big wake up call for Oliver as he realized that he had been taking all his privileges for granted. Still in high school, Oliver looked into going to Congo as a mercenary but decided against it.

In 1967, Oliver Stone, feeling dejected and disillusioned with the direction his life was taking, decided to enlist in the United States army, specifically requesting combat duty in Vietnam.

After graduating from high school, Oliver entered Yale University to study the Liberal Arts. After only one year Stone left Yale. He had read Joseph Conrad's novel Lord Jim, and along with George Harrison's sitar music and Zorba the Greek, Oliver was inspired to move to Saigon and teach. He had heard of a position with the Free Pacific Institute (a Chinese school in Cholon) in the ethnic Chinese district of Saigon, South Vietnam. After being accepted to the program, Stone, now 18, arrived in Saigon in June of 1965. Stone's arrival was approximately the same time that the first ground infantry troops and marines arrived, and Stone recalls in a Time magazine interview that many of the troops would walk around firing off their guns for no apparent reason. 

After six months of teaching the Vietnamese/Chinese students such things as English, math, and history, Oliver decided he had had enough. He signed on as a wiper on a U.S. merchant marine ship. After a short stint in Oregon, he traveled on to Guadalajara, Mexico. There he began to write his first novel, a 1,400-page book titled "A child's Night Dream", based on his experiences in Southeast Asia. Stone decided to return to Yale and try the college thing one more time. He was devoting so much of his time writing his novel that his grades suffered and he eventually dropped out of the University for good. After completing his novel and failing to interest a publisher, Stone became frustrated and threw half of the manuscript into the East River.

In 1967, Stone, feeling dejected and disillusioned with the direction his life was taking, decided to enlist in the United States army, specifically requesting combat duty in Vietnam. Upon arrival in September of 1967, he was placed in the 25th Infantry Division near the Cambodian border. Stone noticed an extremely different scene present in Vietnam compared to the scene during his last visit a couple of years prior. The very same people who had welcomed the presence of the American troops before were now showing extreme animosity.

Director Martin Scorsese was Stone's first teacher, and a man whom Stone credits with helping him to focus and channel his rage.

Initially very driven about fighting for the rights of the people, Stone realized only a day into the war zone that his decision to join the army was a rash and stupid one. No one there wanted to fight, they all just wanted to survive and go home. Two weeks into Stones tour of duty (which was 15months), he was ambushed by three NVA soldiers and shot in the neck but luckily survived. Stone, like many other soldiers during that time, lost his sense of what was right and what was wrong. 

Many villages were set on fire and many people killed. To the soldiers, it was just another day in the war. Much of Stone's experiences were brought to the big screen in his movie Platoon. Stone was the victim of other injuries during the war. He sustained several shrapnel wounds in both his leg and behind. Stone was also the recipient of various awards during the war, including one for extraordinary acts of courage under fire. He also received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster. Stone was eventually transferred to Saigon for MP duty and then to long-range recon patrol. 

Next he went to the First Cavalry, and eventually after his 15-month commitment, Stone was discharged and he returned to the U.S. in 1968. Very confused and regretful of things he had done, Stone went to Mexico. Upon his re-entry to the U.S., he was caught with two ounces of marijuana and thrown in jail. He eventually found the courage to call his father to bail him out but realized he needed to shape up his life.

Under the G.I. bill, Oliver Stone enrolled in New York University's Film School, a decision that he proclaims was his salvation. This decision offered Stone a way to express both his feelings and his creativity. Director Martin Scorsese was Stone's first teacher, and a man whom Stone credits with helping him to focus and channel his rage. While he was a student at the university, Stone made two short films. The first was Last Year in Vietnam, a story about a war veteran wandering the streets of New York. The other was titled Michael and Marie and was a take-off of several gangster films of the time.

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