Boyd Crawford (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 08, 2022

Boyd Crawford, handsome juvenile, is a product of a college stage.

He was born in Tarentum, Pa., March 21. His father was a civil engineer, whose profession kept him and the family traveling. When Crawford was only six weeks old, the family moved to Norton, Va.

In Norton, young Crawford contracted the acting virus. Circuses wintered in the little town and the lad spent all of his idle hours hanging around the grounds. Occasionally he was permitted to carry water for the elephants, and as the result of his constant attendance at the shows he made many friends among the performers. Frequently he would spend hours on end listening to the bizarre tales of the acrobats, trick riders, animal trainers and professional freaks.

“From them I got my first taste of greasepaint,” Crawford said, “and through knowing them I experienced my first desire to go into the theatre. I never got over it.”

When his father was killed in the World War, Crawford returned to Tarentum with his mother and younger brother. Some years later his mother remarried and they moved to New Kensington, Pa., where his step-father, J. L. Haines, is a business man.

Crawford’s mother had hoped he would become an engineer like his father. However, throughout his grammar school and high school days he persisted in his determination to become an actor. His mother was disappointed, he says, but she resigned herself and sent him to the Drama School of the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh.

Showboat Tour

At Carnegie, Crawford played leads in school productions, “essaying,” he says, “with more nerve than skill, Shakespeare, Ibsen and Chekhov, and the moderns.”

During one summer vacation, a group of the college players took their annual Spring Revue aboard Captain Menke’s famous old “Goldenrod,” model for Edna Ferber’s “Showboat,” and toured the lower Ohio and tributaries. It was this vagabond cruise that definitely convinced Crawford that his heart was in the theatre.

“Whatever vague doubts I might have had would have no other career.”

Leaving Carnegie after two years, Crawford took a job in stock with the Pittsburgh Civic Playhouse. He appeared in “Three-Cornered Moon,” doing radio work on the side.

In the spring of 1933, he went to New York.

For several months, he was without a job, but finally persuaded the proprietor of a summer stock theatre at Pawling, N. Y., to engage him. He became an actor, scene-shifter and billposter.

Returning to New York in the fall he had his first contract with the Broadway stage, and saw the possibility of branching out. George Linden, who was established in pictures, Jerry Cowan and five other actors, in his production of “Ladies’ Money.” Courtney Burr saw him at an understudy rehearsal and gave him a small part in his “Battleship Gertie.”

Broadway Success

Then followed a part in “Prodigal Father,” juvenile lead in “Dear Mr. President,” both of which failed to reach Broadway. For a year Crawford did a bit in “Victoria Regina,” starring Helen Hayes.

In the summer of 1936, he went to Skowhegan, Me., for the juvenile lead in “Traveler’s Track,” the role that first attracted attention of Hollywood talent scouts. In the fall of 1936, Crawford got his first important Broadway part in Martin Flavin’s “Around the Corner.”

Critics praised him in his next featured role, in “Yes, My Darling Daughter.” Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer made a movie test and signed him to a contract.

Source: Who’s Who at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1937