Douglas Croft

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Douglas Croft
Born Douglas Malcom Wheatcroft
(1926-08-12)August 12, 1926
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Died October 24, 1963(1963-10-24) (aged 37)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting place Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Point Loma, San Diego, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Actor
Years active 1941-1947

Douglas Croft (August 12, 1926 – October 24, 1963), born Douglas Malcom Wheatcroft, was an American child actor who is best remembered for being the first person to portray the DC Comics character Robin, the Boy Wonder, as well as his secret identity Dick Grayson, in the 1943 serial Batman when he was 16 years of age.

Early life[edit]

Croft was born Douglas Malcom Wheatcroft[1] on August 12, 1926, in Seattle, Washington, in the United States.[2] Mother, Beatrice Hayden, married the silent film actor Stanhope Nelson Wheatcroft. They divorced in 1922,[3] and his mother relocated to San Francisco. His parents' divorce was a bitter one, and about the time he was born in August 1926 Stanhope Wheatcroft attempted to have Beatrice declared dead so that he could stop paying alimony.[4] The name of Douglas Croft's biological father is not known.

Acting career[edit]

Croft was living with his monther in Los Angeles, California, in 1941. Fascinated by movie stars, a talent agent spotted him loitering near a studio and signed him up.[1] About September 1941, he began using the stage name "Douglas Croft".[5] He also shaved several years off his age, claiming in July 1941[6] and again in March 1942 that he was 11 years old.[7] A December 1941 newspaper report listed his age as 12, when he was by then actually 15.[8] His first role was a bit part in Remember The Day,[1] the last film in which Fay Wray was a leading lady.[9] His second role was a small part in the 1942 film Kings Row,[2][6] with his first major part and notable performance coming the same year in Not A Ladies Man.[1]

His breakout role was that of the young George M. Cohan in 1942's Oscar-winning Yankee Doodle Dandy. 1942 also saw Croft in a substantial role as the young Lou Gehrig in The Pride of the Yankees and as Raymond in George Washington Slept Here.[2]

Croft was the first actor to play the comic book character Robin in a motion picture,[10] doing so in the 1943 15-chapter movie serial Batman.[11] As of 2013, Croft remains the youngest person (aged 16) to portray Robin, who at that time was depicted in comic books as being a young teenager. The producers made one change to the character, and that was to give Croft a wig of untamed curly hair.[12]

Later life[edit]

Douglas Croft served in the United States armed forces during World War II. In February 1947, he was critically injured in a motorcycle accident which killed 19-year-old driver John J. Masterson.[13] His final motion picture role, a bit part in 1947's Killer McCoy, was filmed in June or July of 1947.[14] Croft's mother died of an intestinal blockage in June 1950.[15]

Later life and death[edit]

Douglas Croft died at the age 37 on October 24, 1963, at the Palomor Hotel in Los Angeles, California, from acute alcohol intoxication and liver disease. He was buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery near San Diego, California.[2]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1941 Remember The Day Dewey Roberts as a boy
1942 Kings Row Drake McHugh - as a Boy
1942 Not A Ladies Man Bill Bruce
1942 Yankee Doodle Dandy George M. Cohan - As a Boy of 13
1942 Flight Lieutenant Danny Doyle - as a boy Uncredited
1942 The Pride of the Yankees Lou Gehrig as a Boy
1942 George Washington Slept Here Raymond
1943 Harrigan's Kid Skip
1943 Presenting Lily Mars Davey
1943 Batman Robin / Dick Grayson Serial
1945 River Gang Slug
1947 Killer McCoy Danny Burns, Newsboy (final film role)
1974 The Three Stooges Follies Dick Grayson / 'Robin' (archive footage)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Holmstrom, John (1996). The Moving Picture Boy: An International Encyclopaedia From 1895 to 1995. Norwich, Conn.: Russell. p. 165. ISBN 9780859551786. 
  2. ^ a b c d Wilson, Scott; Mank, Gregory W. (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company. p. 167. ISBN 9780786479924. 
  3. ^ "Judge Orders Actor Husband to Pay Alimony". The Los Angeles Times. July 12, 1922. p. 7. 
  4. ^ "Actor in Pictures Charges Alimony Paid Dead Woman". The Los Angeles Times. August 5, 1926. p. 17. 
  5. ^ "Of Local Origin". The New York Times. September 9, 1941. p. 26. 
  6. ^ a b "Tyro Gets Break". The Los Angeles Times. July 1, 1941. p. 18. 
  7. ^ Pryor, Thomas M. (March 1, 1942). "By Way of Report". The New York Times. p. X3. 
  8. ^ "Douglas Croft, Youthful Actor, to Make Debut". The Los Angeles Times. December 24, 1941. p. 10. 
  9. ^ Kinnard, Roy; Crnkovich, Tony (2005). The Films of Fay Wray. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company. p. 162. ISBN 9780786421299. 
  10. ^ Lin, Joseph C. (March 28, 2014). "Meet All the Actors Who Have Played Batman and Robin". Time. Retrieved August 12, 2018 ; Harp, Justin (February 15, 2016). "Johnny Duncan, the actor who played Batman's sidekick Robin in the 1940s serial, dies at age 92". Retrieved August 12, 2018. 
  11. ^ Rainey, Buck (2010). Serials and Series: A World Filmography, 1912-1956. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company. p. 22. ISBN 9780786447022. 
  12. ^ Reinhart, Mark S. (2013). The Batman Filmography. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company. p. 19. ISBN 9780786468911. 
  13. ^ "Motorcyclist Killed". The Los Angeles Times. February 9, 1947. p. 13. 
  14. ^ Killer McCoy at the American Film Institute Catalog
  15. ^ "Hotel Death Laid to Natural Causes". The Los Angeles Times. June 7, 1950. p. 6. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
none
Actors to portray Robin
1943
Succeeded by
Johnny Duncan