Broderick Crawford


Actor
Broderick Crawford

About

Also Known As
William Broderick Crawford
Birth Place
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Born
December 09, 1911
Died
April 26, 1986
Cause of Death
Complications From Stroke

Biography

Hard-drinking, fast-talking character actor legend Broderick Crawford received his start on stage and gained significant attention via his performance as the mentally challenged Lennie in a theatrical production of "Of Mice and Men" (1937-38). Motion picture roles followed, but he would not attain genuine notoriety in that medium until 1949, thanks to a bravura, Oscar-winning turn as cor...

Photos & Videos

Larceny, Inc. - Movie Poster
Convicted - Lobby Cards
Convicted - Behind-the-Scenes Photos

Family & Companions

Kay Griffith
Wife
Singer, radio performer. Married c. 1940; divorced in 1955; mother of Crawford's two children.

Biography

Hard-drinking, fast-talking character actor legend Broderick Crawford received his start on stage and gained significant attention via his performance as the mentally challenged Lennie in a theatrical production of "Of Mice and Men" (1937-38). Motion picture roles followed, but he would not attain genuine notoriety in that medium until 1949, thanks to a bravura, Oscar-winning turn as corrupt politician Willy Stark in "All the King's Men" (1949). Crawford was soon also able to display rarely showcased comedic talent as the gangster antagonist of the smash Judy Holliday vehicle "Born Yesterday" (1950). With his roughhewn features and gravelly voice, Crawford made for an offbeat leading man in superior, small-scale productions like "The Mob" (1951) and "Scandal Sheet" (1952), but his most popular credit of the time was the hit television series "Highway Patrol" (syndicated, 1955-59). He continued to score roles right into his seventies and was rarely off the mark. While there were no shortage of tough guys in Golden Age Hollywood, Crawford had remarkable presence that he could augment with a tangible intelligence when portraying both violent underworld thugs and esteemed authority figures.

William Broderick Crawford was born in Philadelphia, PA on Dec. 9, 1911 and his name was partially derived from his parents, performers Helen Broderick and Lester Crawford. With that pedigree, it was perhaps inevitable that Crawford would take an interest in acting. However, aside from occasionally joining them on stage as a child, Crawford did not really pursue the profession for some time. Upon finishing at Dean Academy, he spent a mere three weeks as a student at Harvard University before deciding to pursue a blue-collar existence in a series of jobs. Acting became part of his life again during this time and Crawford appeared in Noel Coward's "Port Valaine" (1935) before making his Broadway debut in the comedy "Sweet Mystery of Life" (1935). That production proved to be short-lived, but "Of Mice and Men" (1937-38) made Crawford's theater career. Burly and imposing, he proved a perfect choice to play simple-minded but powerful Lennie in George S. Kaufman's popular adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel. The notice he gained for the play led to movie offers, which Crawford quickly accepted.

His first motion picture was the Miriam Hopkins comic romance "Woman Chases Man" (1937) and Crawford continued on in a series of mostly unremarkable action and Western titles for the next few years. Unfortunately for him, Lon Chaney, Jr. took over the role of Lennie for the "Of Mice and Men" (1939) film incarnation, though there were no hard feelings and the two men remained loyal friends and drinking buddies for years to come. In 1940, Crawford married his first wife, actress Kay Griffith, and the couple had two children during the 18 years they were together. He took a break from performing in 1943 to serve with the United States Army and was stationed overseas, where his duties included being a host on the Armed Forces Network. While he had appeared in few truly noteworthy movies up to that point, Crawford was rarely at a loss for work and quality efforts like "Black Angel" (1946) and "The Time of Your Life" (1948) helped offset the formula genre fare that made up the bulk of his paychecks. However, he made a spectacular jump to leading man with "All the King's Men" (1949) and his turn as crooked politico Willy Stark, who was based on notorious Louisiana governor Huey Long. The highly popular screen version of Robert Penn Warren's novel benefitted enormously from Crawford's imposing performance as the power-mad figure and his peers rewarded him with the Best Actor Academy Award over several major stars.

He also had a perfect vehicle for his comedic talents with "Born Yesterday" (1950), where he was a riot as the uncouth tycoon boyfriend of dim-witted Judy Holliday. To his credit, Crawford also did an effective job of maintaining audience sympathy for the character during the sequences where he mistreated her. Crawford's look and physique were more suited to supporting parts than leads, but the quality of his acting kept him top-billed for a time in such superior B-movies as "The Mob" (1951), "Scandal Sheet" (1952), and "Down Three Dark Streets" (1954). He also found ample acting opportunities on television and it would be this small screen work that kept his popularity thriving. Following guest spots on various dramatic programs, Crawford was tapped to star in "Highway Patrol" (syndicated, 1955-59), where he played fast-talking, hardboiled police chief Dan Matthews. The program was a hit and while the personality and presence Crawford brought to the role was a major component, he also ended being a major liability. The actor's increasing alcoholism led to a number of problems and embarrassments, including real-life arrests for drunk driving and, finally, a suspended license. The pace of production eventually wore Crawford down and he declined to return for a fifth season.

In between his "Highway Patrol" obligations, Crawford continued to undertake familiar assignments in films like "Big House, U.S.A." (1955) and "The Fastest Gun Alive" (1956), and began the 1960s with a pair of stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his movie and television work. He was lured back to the small screen with the promise of a new series. "King of Diamonds" (syndicated, 1961-62) cast him as the security chief of the world's diamond industry, but it failed to duplicate the success of "Highway Patrol" and was discontinued after one season. By this time, he had separated from Griffith and married a second actress, Joan Tabor. Additional character parts followed and Crawford was a frequent guest star on various primetime programs. He also often headed overseas for roles, including a pair of minor spaghetti Westerns, "Mutiny at Fort Sharp" (1966) and "The Texican" (1966), and the silly horror outing "The Vulture" (1967). Such fare was increasingly common for the actor as he trudged his way through one schlocky B-picture after another. The low-budget spy thriller "The Fakers" (1967) ended up being re-edited with a biker subplot and released as "Hell's Bloody Devils" (1970), while further European ventures like "Guerilla Strike Force" (1970) and "How Did a Nice Girl Like You Get Into This Business?" (1970) gave Crawford a paid vacation, but precious little else.

He made one final return to series television as a regular on "The Interns" (CBS, 1970-71), but the show disappeared from the air after only a few months. Further guest assignments - including an unexpected hosting stint on an episode of "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ) that included a send-up of "Highway Patrol" - and a handful of made-for-TV features followed. He also joined about half of the remaining show business old-timers in the dire satire "Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood" (1976). Crawford was married to his third wife, Mary Moore, by that point and it was the relationship that lasted the remainder of his life. The actor enjoyed one of his better late career outings in "The Private Life of J. Edgar Hoover" (1977). Like much of writer-director Larry Cohen's output, the filmmaking was often unpolished, but the script offered much to think about and Crawford gave an inspired portrayal of the infamous F.B.I. director. The youth drama "Liar's Moon" (1982) turned out to be Crawford's final picture. Years of heavy drinking and unhealthy eating finally took its toll and he suffered a series of strokes that led to his passing on April 26, 1986.

By John Charles

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Liar's Moon (1982)
Den Tuchtigen Gehort Die Welt (1981)
Harlequin (1980)
Doc Wheelan
There Goes the Bride (1979)
Gas Station Attendant
A Little Romance (1979)
Himself
The Private Files Of J. Edgar Hoover (1977)
J Edgar Hoover
Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby (1976)
Mayday At 40,000 Feet! (1976)
The Phantom of Hollywood (1974)
Captain O'Neal
Terror In The Wax Museum (1974)
Burns
Embassy (1973)
The Candidate (1972)
Narrator, Jarmon commercial
The Adventures of Nick Carter (1972)
A Tattered Web (1971)
Hell's Bloody Devils (1970)
Brand
Red Tomahawk (1967)
Columbus Smith
The Vulture (1967)
Brian Stroud
The Oscar (1966)
Sheriff
The Texican (1966)
Luke Starr
Kid Rodelo (1966)
Joe Harbin
Up From the Beach (1965)
U. S. MP major
A House Is Not a Home (1964)
Harrigan
Square of Violence (1963)
Dr. Stefan Bernardi
The Castilian (1963)
Don Sancho
Last of the Vikings (1962)
[See note]
Convicts 4 (1962)
Warden
Il bidone (1962)
Augusto
The Decks Ran Red (1958)
Henry Scott
Between Heaven and Hell (1956)
Capt. Waco
The Fastest Gun Alive (1956)
Vinnie Harold
Not As a Stranger (1955)
Dr. Aarons
Big House, U.S.A. (1955)
Rollo Lamar
New York Confidential (1955)
Charles Lupo
Human Desire (1954)
Carl Buckley
Down Three Dark Streets (1954)
John Ripley
Night People (1954)
Charles Leatherby
Stop, You're Killing Me (1953)
Remy Marko
The Last Posse (1953)
Sheriff John Frazier
Last of the Comanches (1953)
Sgt. Matt Trainor
Scandal Sheet (1952)
Mark Chapman, also known as George Grant
Lone Star (1952)
Thomas Craden
The Mob (1951)
Johnny Damico
Convicted (1950)
George Knowland
Born Yesterday (1950)
Harry Brock
Cargo to Capetown (1950)
Johnny Phelan
All the King's Men (1950)
Willie Stark
Bad Men of Tombstone (1949)
William Morgan
Night unto Night (1949)
[C. L.] Shawn
Anna Lucasta (1949)
Frank
A Kiss in the Dark (1949)
Mr. Botts
Sealed Verdict (1948)
Captain Kinsella
The Time of Your Life (1948)
[Krupp] A bewildered cop
Slave Girl (1947)
Chips Jackson
The Flame (1947)
Ernie Hicks
The Runaround (1946)
Louis Prentiss
Black Angel (1946)
Captain Flood
Men of Texas (1942)
Henry [Clay] Jackson
Sin Town (1942)
[Martin] Dude McNair
Butch Minds the Baby (1942)
Aloysius "Butch" Grogan
North to the Klondike (1942)
John Thorn
Larceny, Inc. (1942)
Jug Martin
Broadway (1942)
Steve Crandall
South of Tahiti (1941)
Chuck
The Black Cat (1941)
Hubert [A. Gilmore "Gil"] Smith
Tight Shoes (1941)
Speedy [Miller]
Badlands of Dakota (1941)
Bob Holliday
When the Daltons Rode (1940)
Bob Dalton
Texas Rangers Ride Again (1940)
Mace Townsley
I Can't Give You Anything but Love, Baby (1940)
Sonny McGann
Trail of the Vigilantes (1940)
Swanee
Seven Sinners (1940)
Little Ned
Eternally Yours (1939)
Don [Barnes]
Beau Geste (1939)
Hank Miller
Ambush (1939)
Randall
Undercover Doctor (1939)
Eddie Krator
The Real Glory (1939)
Lieut. Larsen
Island of Lost Men (1939)
Tex Ballister
Slightly Honorable (1939)
Russ Sampson
Sudden Money (1939)
[Archibald] "Doc" Finney
Start Cheering (1938)
Biff Gordon
Submarine D-1 (1937)
Mike
Woman Chases Man (1937)
Hunk [Williams]

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

A Little Romance (1979)
Other

Cast (Special)

Hunter (1976)
Mr Meeker; Their Superior
Paradise (1974)
Patsy

Life Events

1932

London stage debut as football player in "She Loves Me Not"

1935

Broadway debut in "Point Valaine" starring Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne

1937

Film debut, "Woman Chases Man"

1937

Left Hollywood for stage; starred on Broadway as Lennie in "Of Mice and Men"

1942

Joined Army Air Force and served overseas for 18 months, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge

1952

TV debut on Video Theatre's "Hunt the Man Down"

1955

TV series debut as Chief Dan Matthews on "Highway Patrol"

Photo Collections

Larceny, Inc. - Movie Poster
Here is the American One-Sheet Movie Poster for Warner Bros' Larceny, Inc. (1942), starring Edward G. Robinson. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Convicted - Lobby Cards
Convicted - Lobby Cards
Convicted - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Convicted - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Convicted - Publicity Stills
Convicted - Publicity Stills
Convicted - Scene Stills
Convicted - Scene Stills
Convicted - Movie Posters
Convicted - Movie Posters
The Mob - Lobby Card Set
The Mob - Lobby Card Set
The Mob - Movie Posters
The Mob - Movie Posters
The Mob - Publicity Stills
The Mob - Publicity Stills
The Mob - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
The Mob - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Born Yesterday - Movie Posters
Here are a few original-release movie posters from Born Yesterday (1950), directed by George Cukor and starring Judy Holliday, William Holden, and Broderick Crawford.
All the King's Men - Movie Posters
Here are a few original-release movie posters for Columbia Pictures' All the King's Men (1949), starring Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, and Mercedes McCambridge.
Lone Star - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for MGM's Lone Star (1952), starring Clark Gable and Ava Gardner. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Convicted (1950) - Double Breasted Overstuffed Idiot Broderick Crawford is comfortable playing the well-meaning D-A Knowland, but not happy with the corporate lawyer Bradley (Roland Winters), defending an employee (Glenn Ford, not seen here) who accidentally killed a guy in a bar fight, early in director Henry Levin's Convicted, 1950.
Convicted (1950) - Murder Was Not Your Intent Glenn Ford as Joe who accidentally killed a big-shot’s son in a bar fight, gets sentenced as his lame employer-hired lawyer (Roland Winters) gets chewed out by the compassionate D-A Knowland (Broderick Crawford), Griff Barnett his sad father, Dorothy Malone, 13 years Crawford’s junior, as his daughter, Millard Mitchell the other convict on the train, in Convicted, 1950.
Convicted (1950) - They Call It Yammering Ex-D-A Knowland (Broderick Crawford) is unflappable on his first day as prison warden, ignoring head guard Douglas (Carl Benton Reid) and aide Mackay (Ed Begley), confronting his new charges including Tex (John Doucette) and Luigi (Peter Virgo), in Convicted, 1950, starring Glenn Ford.
Convicted (1950) - I Said Prosecute Not Persecute Glenn Ford as Joe, sent up for accidentally killing a guy in a bar fight, now in trouble for slugging a guard, with Broderick Crawford as Knowland, the D-A who prosecuted him, now warden of the prison, consoling him about his father’s death and introducing his fetching daughter-assistant (Dorothy Malone), in Convicted, 1950
Scandal Sheet (1952) - Open, Blood All Over! Cracking opening to director Phil Karlson's Scandal Sheet, 1952, in which unscrupulous reporter McCleary (John Derek) gets gory details from a witness who thinks he's a cop.
Scandal Sheet (1952) - Disgusting Tabloid! Echoes from the original novel by Samuel Fuller as editor Chapman (Broderick Crawford) dresses down the stodgy board (represented by Kathryn Card) in director Phil Karlson's Scandal Sheet, 1952.
Scandal Sheet (1952) - Thinking People Like It Too At their newspaper's "Lonely Hearts Ball," writer Julie (Donna Reed) sees boyfriend Steve (John Derek), photographer Biddle (Henry Morgan) and editor Chapman (Broderick Crawford) in Phil Karlson's Scandal Sheet, 1952.
Scandal Sheet (1952) - Stop The Presses! Audience knows but reporter McCleary (John Derek) doesn't, that editor Chapman (Broderick Crawford) is the killer in the murder story he's pitching in Phil Karlson's Scandal Sheet, 1952, from a Samuel Fuller novel.
Human Desire (1954) - Open, Better Than Korea Director Fritz Lang’s opening is more than similar to the one Jean Renoir shot for his 1938 version of the same Emile Zola novel (La Bete Humaine), engineer Glenn Ford with partner Edgar Buchanan, in Human Desire, 1954, with Gloria Grahame and Broderick Crawford.
Human Desire (1954) - Big Men Like Him First scene for Gloria Grahame as "Vicki," her husband Carl (Broderick Crawford) arriving home from the rail yard to tell her he's been fired, in Fritz Lang's Human Desire, 1954, from an an Emile Zola novel also filmed by Jean Renoir as La Bete Humaine.
Human Desire (1954) - That's Railroadin' Director Fritz Lang with some exposition, engineer Jeff (Glenn Ford) just back from Korea, wrapping up a shift with buddy Alec (Edgar Buchanan) and the boss (Carl Lee), spotting old acquaintance Carl (Broderick Crawford), in Human Desire, 1954, from an Emile Zola novel.
Lone Star (1952) - I'd Call Her A Lot Of Woman Clark Gable is hiding the fact that he’s an ally of (ex) President Andrew Jackson sent to advocate Texas’ annexation into the union, especially from tough cattleman Craden (Broderick Crawford), arriving in Austin, 1845, where he meets second-billed Ava Gardner as publisher Martha, in Lone Star, 1952.

Trailer

Born Yesterday (1950) - Inspecting Your Wing Crooked titan Harry Brock (Broderick Crawford) blowing into D.C., girlfriend Billie (Judy Holliday), reporter Verrall (William Holden) and hotel concierge (Grandon Rhodes) also introduced, opening George Cukor's Born Yesterday, 1950.
Night Unto Night -- (Original Trailer) A terminally ill scientist (Ronald Reagan) seeks comfort from a mentally disturbed widow (Viveca Lindfors) in Night Unto Night (1949).
Night People - (Original Trailer) Communists kidnap a U.S. officer (Gregory Peck) in cold war Berlin in Night People (1954).
Down Three Dark Streets - (Original Trailer) An FBI Agent takes on the three unrelated cases of his dead partner to track down his killer in Down Three Dark Streets (1954).
All The King's Men (1949) - (Re-issue Trailer) Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Actor went to All The King's Men (1949) based on the novel by Robert Penn Warren.
Decks Ran Red, The - (Original Trailer) Dishonest seamen plan a murderous mutiny. Starring James Mason and Dorothy Dandridge.
Little Romance, A - (Original Trailer) Teenagers elope with the help of an aging pickpocket in A Little Romance (1979), starring Diane Lane and Laurence Olivier.
Submarine D-1 - (Original Trailer) Recruits on a new submarine fall for the same girl in Submarine D-1 (1937), written by Frank Wead (The Wings Of Eagles).
Fastest Gun Alive, The -- (Original Trailer) Glenn Ford is The Fastest Gun Alive (1956), a reformed gunslinger whose past keeps catching up with him.
Born Yesterday - (Re-issue Trailer) A newspaper reporter takes on the task of educating a crooked businessman's girlfriend in Born Yesterday (1950), directed by George Cukor and starring Judy Holliday and William Holden.
Kiss in the Dark, A - (Original Trailer) Concert pianist David Niven inherits an apartment house full of loony tenants in A Kiss in the Dark (1949) co-starring Jane Wyman.
Larceny, Inc. - (Original Trailer) Edward G. Robinson parodies his gangster roles in the comic heist movie Larceny, Inc. (1942) as an ex-con who buys a store as a front for robbery.

Promo

Family

Helen Broderick
Mother
Actor, comedienne, music performer.
Lester Crawford
Father
Vaudevillian.
Kelly Griffith Crawford
Son
Born on July 26, 1951.
Kim Crawford
Child

Companions

Kay Griffith
Wife
Singer, radio performer. Married c. 1940; divorced in 1955; mother of Crawford's two children.

Bibliography