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"In the Spotlight"


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In the Spotlight: BUSTER CRABBE




The adventurous actor was born Clarence Linden Crabbe II on February 2, 1908 in Oakland, California.

In 1910 the family was living in a boarding house in Oakland and Edward senior was working as a real estate broker.


Raised in Hawaii, Buster graduated from Punahou School in Honolulu. He excelled as a swimmer and participated in two Olympic Games: 1928, where he won the bronze medal for the 1,500 meter freestyle, and 1932, where he won the gold medal for the 400 meter freestyle.


He attended the University of Southern California, where he was the school's first All-American swimmer (1931) and a 1931 NCAA freestyle titlist. He also became a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity before graduating from USC in 1931.

In 1933 he married his college sweetheart Adah Virginia Held, and gave himself one year to either make it as an actor or start law school at USC.


He began his movie career in 1930 in bit parts.

His role in the 1933 Tarzan serial "Tarzan the Fearless" (also issued as a full length movie) launched a successful career in which he starred in over one hundred movies.

It would be the only movie in which Crabbe starred as Tarzan.


He also starred in the first international film "Search for Beauty" (1934), "Thrill of a Lifetime" (1936) with Betty Grable, etc.

His next major role was in 1936 as Flash Gordon in the popular Flash Gordon serial, which he reprised in two sequels, released by Universal in 1938 and 1940.

The three serials were later shown extensively on American television during the 1950s, then edited for release on home video.

Other characters he portrayed included Buck Rogers, and in numerous westerns as Billy the Kid, and Billy Carson. His sidekick in most of his westerns was the actor Al 'Fuzzy' St. John. In some of his movies he is credited as Larry Crabbe.


Crabbe is the only actor who played Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers ? the top three pulp fiction heroes of the 1930s.

He also starred at the Billy Rose Aquacade at the New York World's Fair in its second year of 1940, replacing Johnny Weismuller.

He co-starred in two films with Weissmuller including "Swamp Fire" in in 1946.


Crabbe starred in the television series, "Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion" (1955 to 1957) as Captain Michael Gallant; the adventure series aired on NBC. His real-life son, Cullen Crabbe, appeared in this show as the character "Cuffy Sanders".


Crabbe made regular television appearances, including one on an episode of the 1979 series "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century", where he played a retired fighter pilot named "Brigadier Gordon" in honor of Flash Gordon.


Crabbe's Hollywood career waned somewhat in the 1950s and 1960s. The ever-industrious Crabbe became a stockbroker and businessman during this period. He even owned a Southern California swimming pool building company in later years.

The Buster Crabbe swimming pools are still in business today.

In 1971 Crabbe broke the world swimming record for the over sixties in the 400 meters free style


In the mid-1950s, Crabbe purchased the campus of a small defunct prep school near the hamlet of Onchiota, New York, in the Adirondack Mountains. Renamed Buster Crabbe's Meenahga Lodge the camp advertised itself as swim camp for youngsters age 8-14, with at least one swim instructor from Hawaii.


Though he followed other pursuits, he never stopped acting. From the 1950s forward he appeared in numerous lower budget films including the 1982 feature, "The Comeback Trail"

which was his final film.


Despite his numerous film and television appearances, he is best remembered today as one of the original action heroes of 1930s and 1940s cinema.


Buster and Virginia remained together for 50 years. They had two daughters, Sande and Susan and a son, Cullen. Sande died of anorexia.


He died on April 23, 1983, aged 75, from a heart attack in Scottsdale, Arizona and was laid to rest in the Green Acres Memorial Gardens Cemetery (Heritage Gardens vault, not accessible to public view).


Buster has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Quoted: If you can believe it, we started my last movie for low end studio PRC on Monday and had it in the can on Thursday! That's when I decided I'd had enough and quit. I went in and told them I was through. They didn't even bat an eye. The next thing I knew they replaced me with Lash La Rue.


Message was edited by: mongo

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