Franchot Tone correctly predicted the entirety of his career in a 1936 Photoplay interview. He detailed a plan he would fully follow as years passed:
"I'd like to stay with acting for the rest of my life. When I'm middle-aged—well, then I'll take middle-aged parts. And when I'm old I can always be a character actor...I wouldn't give up pictures. The stage is better, offers more opportunity for sustained moods and continued work; but it would be swell to come out to Hollywood for a part of every year, and then go back to the footlights."
The following is a biographical sketch as it appeared in the New York City Center Theatre Company's All-Star Winter Play Festival souvenir program in 1955:
Franchot Tone is not only a fine actor—in motion pictures, radio or on the stage—but he is a true theatre lover and theatre fan. When he was tied up with film-making on the West Coast, he often flew to New York for a few days of play-seeing, and audiences at City Center are well used to his presence at performances here of the ballet and the opera companies.
Nothing in his early life, a prosaic existence, foretold Mr. Tone’s future in the histrionic field. Born in Niagara Falls, New York, the son of a scientist and president of the Carborundum Company, he followed the course of normal young men through prep school, displaying many interests from football to French. During his four years at Cornell, however, Franchot acquired his first taste of the theatre. He acted and directed plays presented by Dramatic Club of which he was later elected President.
From Dramatic Club President, he stepped into the dual role of Property-man- bit actor in his first professional job with the Garry McGarry Players, a stock organization in Buffalo. The opportunity that rarely comes the way of understudies who nightly wait and pray—good-naturedly—that they will be included in the half-hour call was presented to Franchot when the principal player suddenly took sick, and he was summoned to report on stage—in the juvenile lead. That experience confirmed the young stage novice’s firm belief that acting was the career he wanted to follow.
Since then, Tone has spent his time almost equally behind the footlights and in motion picture studios. He made his Broadway debut with Katharine Cornell in “The Age of Innocence” and overnight became a top-ranking leading man. He appeared successively with Sylvia Sidney, Irene Purcell, and Peggy Shannon
in “Cross Roads”; in three Theatre Guild productions, “Red Rust,” “Hotel Universe,” and “Green Grow the Lilacs”; and opposite Lenore Ulric in “Pagan Lady.” The actor, one of the original members of the Group Theatre, also played in numerous productions presented by that organization, including “The House of Connelly,” “1931,” “Night Over Taos,” “Success Story,” and “The Gentle People.” He was also in the adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s outstanding play, “The Fifth Column.”
Although the list of motion pictures in which Mr. Tone has performed is much longer than the catalogue of stage roles, the time he has spent in the studios, since a picture is only four to eight weeks in the making, is no more than he has given to the legitimate theatre. Among the many pictures in which he has been seen are, “Lives of a Bengal Lancer,” “Mutiny on the Bounty,” “The Gorgeous Hussy,” “Quality Street,” “The Bride Wore Red,” “Man Proof,” “Three Comrades,” “Fast and Furious”, “This Woman is Mine,” “She Knew All the Answers,” and “Five Graves to Cairo,” “Dark Waters” and “The Man on the Eiffel Tower,” which he also co-produced. His last appearance behind the footlights was as the romantically-involved psychiatrist in “Oh, Men! Oh, Women!”