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July 28, 2013

Fred Mustard Stewart had local roots

Anderson has produced several authors but Fred Mustard Stewart was the most successful of them all.

Stewart was born in Anderson in 1932. As a child he was teased about his middle name, but the teasing may have held a tinge of envy. On both sides of his family he was descended from movers and shakers. Stewart’s great-grandfather, Daniel Mustard, had been one of the founders of Citizens Bank (now Key Bank.) His father, Simeon Stewart, grew up in Rushville, where his family was engaged in manufacturing agricultural implements. Young Fred’s father headed the real estate division of Citizens Bank.

Fred attended Shadeland School, but went to a prep school in New Jersey for high school and then attended Princeton. His original aim was to be a concert pianist and he studied piano at Julliard while he was in college. He also became a member of the Princeton Triangle Club, a group which produced a touring musical comedy ever year. Stewart contributed two songs to “Ham and Leggs” in his junior year and functioned as the show’s pianist. He directed “Malice in Wonderland” in his senior year, writing the lyrics and script. The experience gave him a taste of the writer’s life and an interest in show business.

He graduated from Princeton in 1954 with a degree in history. He enlisted in the Coast Guard and spent three years on ships off the East Coast. After his discharge, he drifted for awhile. For a short time he returned to Anderson and worked in the real estate division of Citizens Bank. He decided to become a writer and spent several years writing plays and television scripts. (He wrote a musical based on Dracula during this time period.) He spent a year in California writing a screenplay for a movie that was never made. He switched to writing fiction and looked about for a subject. A friend suggested that he try to write something like “Rosemary’s Baby,” a popular horror novel which had been turned into a movie.

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