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Broderick Crawford

Crawford in Black Angel
Born William Broderick Crawford
December 9, 1911(1911-12-09)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died April 26, 1986 (aged 74)
Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1937–1985
Spouse(s) Kay Griffith (1940-1958) (divorced) 2 children
Joan Tabor (1962-1967) (divorced)
Mary Alice Moore (1973-1986) (his death)

Broderick Crawford (December 9, 1911 – April 26, 1986) was an American actor on stage, film, radio and TV.


Early life

Crawford was born William Broderick Crawford in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Lester Crawford and Helen Broderick, who were both vaudeville performers, as his grandparents had been.[1] His father appeared in films in the 1920s and 1930s; his mother had a minor career in Hollywood comedies. He joined his parents on the stage, working for producer Max Gordon. When vaudeville went into decline, he attended Harvard University for three months but dropped out to work as a stevedore on the New York docks.[1]

Acting career

Crawford returned to vaudeville and radio, which included a stint with the Marx Brothers.[1] He made his first serious character debut playing a footballer in She Loves Me Not at the Adelphi Theatre, London in 1932. Crawford's talents were spotted by Noel Coward during the three weeks that the play ran. Coward later found him a role in the 1935 Broadway production of 'Point Valaine'.

Crawford was stereotyped early in his career as a rough-talking tough guy, frequently playing the villain. He gained fame in 1937, when he starred as Lenny in Of Mice and Men on Broadway. He moved to Hollywood afterward, but did not get the role in the film version. (The role instead went to Lon Chaney, Jr., who was himself thereafter typecast as a hulking brute.)

Crawford in drag with George Burns backstage during Friars Frolics in Los Angeles, 1950

During the Second World War, Crawford enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps. Assigned to the Armed Forces Network, he was sent to Britain in 1944 as a sergeant, serving as an announcer for the Glenn Miller American Band.

In 1949, he was cast as Willie Stark, a character based on Louisiana politician Huey Long in All the King's Men, for which Crawford won the Academy Award for Best Actor. The following year he starred in another smash hit film, Born Yesterday.

Despite these successes, Crawford's career suffered because of typecasting and his own sometimes belligerent personality. Nevertheless, he performed brilliantly in Phil Karlson's Scandal Sheet (1952), Fritz Lang's Human Desire (1954), Federico Fellini's Il bidone (1955) and Richard Fleischer's Between Heaven and Hell (1956). He appeared also in Stanley Kramer's Not as a Stranger (1955), "the worst film with the best cast"; and he even tried the European sword and sandal films in Vittorio Cotaffavi's La vendetta di Ercole (1960) also known in USA as Goliath and the Dragon.

In 1955, television producer Frederick Ziv offered Crawford the lead role as "Chief" Dan Mathews in the police drama Highway Patrol. The program was very popular during its four years (1955-1959) of first-run syndication and remained on local stations for many years afterward. The show revived Crawford's career, and he concentrated on television for the rest of his life. His television roles were mostly for Ziv, who was willing to accept the occasional challenges of working with Crawford. Years later, Ziv admitted to an interviewer, "To be honest, Broderick could be a handful!"

Crawford was typecast in his television roles. He played a gruff but compassionate and fearless character. He appeared in few American motion pictures after 1955, though he continued to accept occasional roles in European made films. Playing on a stereotype of his famous TV role, he wore the trademark fedora and black suit when he made an appearance as guest host of a 1977 episode of NBC's Saturday Night Live that included a spoof of Highway Patrol, featuring Dan Aykroyd, a longtime fan of the original show, and one in which he portrayed FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, in a humorous send-up of Hoover's then-publicized ambiguous sexual persuasion.

Musician Webb Wilder's instrumental, "Ruff Rider" (on the album It Came From Nashville), is dedicated to Broderick Crawford in admiration of his Highway Patrol character's ability to solve any crime committed in California by setting up a road block.


Crawford married four times; he had two sons (Kelly and Kim) from his marriage to actress Kay Griffith. He died in 1986 at the age of 74 in Rancho Mirage, California, after suffering a stroke. He is one of the few performers who have two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for motion pictures at 6901 Hollywood Boulevard and another for television at 6734 Hollywood Boulevard.




  • Woman Chases Man (1937)
  • Start Cheering (1938)
  • Ambush (1939)
  • Sudden Money (1939)
  • Undercover Doctor (1939)
  • Beau Geste (1939)
  • Island of Lost Men (1939)
  • The Real Glory (1939)
  • Eternally Yours (1939)
  • Slightly Honorable (1940)
  • I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby (1940)
  • When the Daltons Rode (1940)
  • Seven Sinners (1940)
  • Trail of the Vigilantes (1940)
  • The Texas Rangers Ride Again (1940)
  • The Black Cat (1941)
  • Tight Shoes (1941)
  • Badlands of Dakota (1941)
  • South of Tahiti (1941)
  • North to the Klondike (1942)
  • Butch Minds the Baby (1942)
  • Larceny, Inc. (1942)
  • Broadway (1942)
  • Keeping Fit (1942)
  • Men of Texas (1942)
  • Sin Town (1942)
  • The Runaround (1946)
  • Black Angel (1946)
  • Slave Girl (1947)
  • The Flame (1947)
  • The Time of Your Life (1948)
  • Sealed Verdict (1948)
  • Bad Men of Tombstone (1949)
  • A Kiss in the Dark (1949)
  • Night Unto Night (1949)
  • All the King's Men (1949)
  • Cargo to Capetown (1950)
  • Convicted (1950)
  • Born Yesterday (1950)
  • Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Awards (1951)
  • The Mob (1951)
  • Scandal Sheet (1952)
  • Lone Star (1952)
  • Stop, You're Killing Me (1952)


  1. ^ a b c Wiggins, Victoria, ed (2007). 501 Movie Stars. Hauppage, NY: Quintessence. p. 219. ISBN 978-0-7641-6021-9. 

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

Broderick Crawford


Broderick Crawford

  1. (poker) Two pair tens and fours
  2. (poker) A ten and a four as a starting hand in Texas hold 'em



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