Stone was born the second child of blue-collar parents in small-town Pennsylvania in 1958. A precocious, not to say brilliant, child, she entered college on a scholarship at age 15 to study creative writing. After performing a dramatic rendition of the Gettysburg Address at a local fair, the bright young woman came to the attention of beauty pageant promoters. It was eventually decided that she didn't possess the requisite malleable personality to succeed at the beauty-queen racket, and someone suggested that she try modeling instead, a profession, it is presumed, in which complicating matters of intelligence and character don't get in the way. Stone's family, to its credit, had her back; her dad, she has said proudly, "never raised me to believe that being a woman inhibited any of my choices or my possibilities to succeed." As for Stone's homemaker mother Dorothy, she cherished a hope that her gifted daughter could escape mediocrity and get out into the big world.
Modeling certainly did that for Stone, but it also bored her to tears, so she started undertaking small acting jobs on the side. Her first film role of any note was a fleeting, and admittedly undemanding, turn as a pretty woman in Woody Allen's Stardust Memories (1980). From there, Stone embarked on a lengthy series of weensy roles in worse-than-so-so movies in which she purportedly did not overly endear herself to crews and fellow cast members. After a good ten years of schlock like Bolero, Police Academy 4, and Action Jackson, she made the most of her butt-kicking role as Arnold Schwarzenegger's "wife" in Total Recall (1990). The part attracted a modicum of good notice, and she further stoked the publicity train's engines by posing for a nude pictorial in Playboy, thereby ensuring a heaping helping of Tinseltown notoriety. In 1999, she was rated among the 25 sexiest stars of the century by Playboy.
About that same time, the director and producers of a psychological thriller called Basic Instinct (1992) were casting about for an actress to play the tasty lead role of bisexual wacko killer Catherine Tramell. They considered Michelle Pfeiffer and Julia Roberts for the part before Stone's name came up. The part was as good as hers when she showed up for the reading with her hair styled becomingly in a French twist and dressed in a stunning Grace Kelly suit. The film's now-infamous interrogation scene, in which Stone uncrosses and recrosses her legs, revealing to the world just what didn't come between her and her tight dress, clinched her reputation as a bad-girl actress.
After Basic Instinct, Stone became one of the hottest properties in Hollywood, with parts coming fast and furious, even if they were primarily of the sex-tramp variety. In 1995, Empire magazine chose her as one of the 100 sexiest stars in film history. In October 1997, she was ranked among the top 100 movie stars of all time by Empire magazine. In 2003, she appeared in three episodes from the 8th season of The Practice as Sheila Carlisle. For her performances, she received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. Stone attempted a return to the mainstream with a role in the film Catwoman (2004), however, the film was a commercial and critical flop. After years of litigation, Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction was released on March 31, 2006. By Sunday, April 2, 2006, after earning $3,200,000 in its debut weekend, the movie was declared a bomb. Much of the cause of the delay in releasing the film was Stone's dispute with the filmmakers over the amount of nudity in the movie: she wanted a lot, and they wanted much much less.
In April 2004, she was awarded the National Center for Lesbian Rights Spirit Award in San Francisco for her support and involvement with organizations that serve the lesbian, gay and HIV/AIDS community. She was presented the award by San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom, then embroiled in a national controversy over his decision to allow same sex marriage in his city. Stone lives in Beverly Hills, California, and owns a ranch in New Zealand.