Oliver Crawford

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Oliver Crawford
Born (1917-08-12)August 12, 1917
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died September 24, 2008(2008-09-24) (aged 91)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Occupation Screenwriter, author

Oliver Crawford (August 12, 1917 – September 24, 2008) was an American screenwriter and author who overcame the Hollywood blacklist during the McCarthy Era of the 1950s to become one of the entertainment industry's most successful television writers.[1] The list of shows for which he wrote for includes Star Trek, Bonanza, Quincy, M.E., Perry Mason and the Kraft Television Theatre.

Early life[edit]

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Crawford attended the Chicago Art Institute and the Goodman Theatre school. His classmates at Goodman included Sam Wanamaker and Karl Malden, both of whom became his lifelong friends.[2]

Career[edit]

Crawford began working in the television industry as a writer in the early 1950s. By 1953, he had contracted to work with both Harold Hecht and Burt Lancaster. Shortly after he signed his contract to work with Lancaster, Crawford was summoned in 1953 to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was investigating suspected Communist sympathizers in Hollywood. Crawford refused to name suspected Communists sympathizers within the entertainment industry. His refusal to implicate anyone in Hollywood led to his blacklisting. He was also fired from his 1953 contract. He moved to New York City with his family after being blacklisted where he was forced to take several jobs to make ends meet, including designing window displays.[1][2]

Crawford was finally able to return to television in 1957 when a friend, actor Sam Levene, got him a job as a writer for Playhouse 90. His career took off during the 1960s, when he wrote for many shows including Gilligan's Island, The Fugitive, The Outer Limits, The Rifleman, The Big Valley, Rawhide, Ben Casey, Lawman and I Spy. His credits during the 1970s included Love, American Style, The Bionic Woman, Kojak, Mannix, Ironside, and numerous other television shows.[1]

Crawford authored a 1978 novel, The Execution, which explored survivors of a Nazi concentration camp. who recognized a former Nazi doctor who had experimented on them and seek revenge.[3] The novel was adapted into a 1985 television movie of the week, which starred Sandy Dennis, Loretta Swit, Rip Torn, Valerie Harper, Jessica Walter and Barbara Barrie.[2]

Crawford served on the board of directors of the Writers Guild of America for 26 years following the restoration of his screenwriting career. His position in the Writers Guild allowed him to advocate for financial restitution for victims of the Hollywood blacklist. Crawford also worked to successfully remove an anti-Communist loyalty oath from Writers Guild's membership application, which was a holdover from the Hollywood blacklist era.[2]

For his work, Crawford received a Writers Guild award nomination for The Outer Limits. He was also a multiple Emmy Award nominated television writer, including for Lineup and Climax!. Crawford also lectured as an associate professor of filmmaking at Loyola Marymount University.[2]

Death[edit]

On September 24, 2008, Crawford died from complications from pneumonia in Los Angeles at the age of 91. He is survived by two daughters, Jo Kaufman and Vicki Crawford, his son Kenneth Kaufman, a brother, and one sister. His wife, Bert (nėe Pikus) died in 1986.[4]

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Notes
1953 The Man from the Alamo Story
1954 The Steel Cage Segment: "The Hostages"
1958 Girl in the Woods Story and screenplay
1985 The Execution Television movie (screenplay)
Television
Year Title Notes
1951 The Stu Erwin Show 1 episode
1952 Boston Blackie 1 episode
1953 Terry and the Pirates 5 episodes
1955–1957 Kraft Television Theatre 2 episodes
1956–1958 Climax! 6 episodes
1957 Lux Video Theatre 1 episode
1958 The Restless Gun 1 episode
U.S. Marshal 1 episode
1959 Armchair Theatre 1 episode
The Third Man 1 episode
Lawman 2 episodes
Startime 1 episode
Rawhide 3 episodes
Man with a Camera 1 episode
1960–1967 Bonanza 2 episodes
1961 The Aquanauts 1 episode
1962 Perry Mason 1 episode
Checkmate 1 episode
The Rifleman 1 episode
1962–1965 Ben Casey 5 episodes
1963–1967 The Fugitive 3 episodes
1964 The Outer Limits 1 episode
1965 Gilligan's Island 1 episode
The Big Valley 1 episode
1965 The Long Hot Summer 2 episodes
1965–1969 The Wild Wild West 2 episodes
1966 Tarzan 1 episode
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea 1 episode
1966–1967 The Iron Horse 2 episodes
1967 I Spy 1 episode
1967–1969 Star Trek 2 episodes
1968 Here Come the Brides 1 episode
1969 Land of the Giants 1 episode
1969–1970 Medical Center 3 episodes
1970 Love, American Style 1 episode
1970–1972 Mannix 2 episodes
1974 Petrocelli 1 episode
Ironside 1 episode
1976 The Swiss Family Robinson 2 episodes
The Blue Knight 1 episode
Bronk 1 episode
The Bionic Woman 3 episodes
1977 Kojak 1 episode
1978 Kaz 1 episode

Awards[edit]

Year Award Result Category Notes
1983 Writers Guild of America Award Won Morgan Cox Award
-
1997 Shared with Katherine Coker, Philip D. Fehrle, D.C. Fontana, Michael A. Hoey, Rick Mittleman, and John Riley

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Blacklisted TV writer Oliver Crawford dies". Associated Press (International Herald Tribune). 2008-09-30. Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Writer Oliver Crawford dies at 91". Variety. 2008-09-29. Retrieved 2008-10-17. 
  3. ^ "Oliver Crawford: Hollywood writer". The Times. 2008-10-08. Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  4. ^ "Writer Oliver Crawford, 91; Was Blacklisted in Red Scare". washingtonpost.com. 2008-10-04. Retrieved 2008-11-10. 

External links[edit]