Born in New York City in 1946, Stone was raised in an affluent home (his father was a stockbroker) and attended Yale. He served in Vietnam and came home a decorated combat veteran, and a man who was, he says, forever changed. "How do you come back from the war? If you come back stone dead inside or do you come back with a heart still? That was the hardest thing for me. It was not fighting the enemy, although they were significant. But it was to try to keep your own humanity alive inside you. Believe me, that war is a curse, because it scars people for life." He overcame it, he told Katie Couric, through art. "I made three movies about it. So, I was able to exorcise some of these devils."