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Buster Crabbe

From Academic Kids


For the British Royal Navy frogman nicknamed Buster Crabb, see Lionel Crabb.

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Buster Crabbe (1908-1983)

Buster Crabbe (February 7, 1908, Oakland, California - April 23, 1983, Scottsdale, Arizona) was an American athlete turned actor, who starred in a number of popular serials in the 1930s and 1940s.

Contents

Birth and early years

He was born as Clarence Linden Crabbe II in 1908 to Lucy Agnes McNamara (1885-1959) and Edward Clinton Simmons Crabbe I (1882-?) in Oakland, California. His father, Edward, was born in Nevada and his paternal grandfather, Clarence Linden Crabbe I (1861-1941), was born in Hawaii. Buster had a brother: Edward Clinton Simmons Crabbe II (1909-1972) who was known as "Buddy". In 1910 the family was living in a boarding house in Oakland and Edward senior was working as a real estate broker.1

Hawaii and Olympics

Raised in Hawaii, 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. Ironically, at that Olympics, he broke the record held by Johnny Weissmuller, whose role as Tarzan he would later assume. In 1933 he married Adah Virginia Held.

Hollywood

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Movie Shadows of Death from 1945

Crabbe's role in a 1933 Tarzan serial, also issued as a full length movie Tarzan the Fearless, launched a successful career in which he starred in over one hundred movies. Other than a 1964 remake of the same movie, it would be the only movie in which he starred as Tarzan. In the 1933 movie, King of the Jungle the 1941's Jungle Man, and the 1952 serial, King of the Congo he played similar roles...but that's not Tarzan. His next major role was as Flash Gordon in the popular Flash Gordon serial (a role he reprised in two sequels). Other characters he portrayed included Western hero Billy the Kid and Buck Rogers. In some of his movies he is credited as Larry Crabbe.

Television

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.

Later years

Crabbe's Hollywood career waned somewhat in the 1950s and 60s. The ever-industrious Crabbe became a stockbroker and businessman during this period. According to David Ragan's "Movie Stars of the 30's", Crabbe even owned a Southern California swimming pool building company in later years. Crabbe did make regular television appearances including one on an episode of the 1979 series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century where he played a retired warrior named "Brigadier Gordon" in honor of Flash Gordon. Nevertheless, he is best remembered today as one of the original action heroes of the cinema.

Death

He died in 1983 in Scottsdale, Arizona and was buried in the Green Acres Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

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