Hector William Crawford
14 August 1913
|Died||11 March 1991 (aged 77)|
|Occupation||music conductor and director, radio and television producer|
|Known for||Broadcast Exchange of Australia, Crawford Productions|
Hector William Crawford CBE AO (14 August 1913 – 11 March 1991) was an Australian entrepreneur, conductor and media mogul, best known for his radio and television production firms. He and his sister Dorothy Crawford founded Crawford Productions, which was responsible for many iconic programs and initiated the careers of a number of notable Australian actors and entertainers. His influence on the Australian entertainment industry was immense and enduring, and one obituary described him as "one of the best-known and most respected names in the history of Australian entertainment".
Hector William Crawford was born in Melbourne in 1913. His parents were William Henry Crawford, a commercial traveller, and Charlotte, née Turner, a contralto and organist. He studied at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and later conducted the orchestra there. In 1940 he became the musical and recording director of Broadcast Exchange of Australia, a radio broadcasting house, and its managing director in 1942.
In 1945 he and his sister Dorothy Crawford founded Crawford Productions. Hector managed music, administration and sales, while Dorothy attended to script-editing and casting. They produced musical radio programs in Melbourne such as Music for the People, in which concerts at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, often conducted by Hector, were attended by large crowds and broadcast live on radio. The concept developed, and culminated in the concert given by The Seekers at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in 1967, which attracted a record-breaking crowd of 200,000 people.
Other shows included Opera for the People, The Melba Story (which starred the then unknown soprano Glenda Raymond, who shared the role with Patricia Kennedy), The Amazing Oscar Hammerstein, and The Blue Danube. The singing competition Mobil Quest first brought coloratura sopranos Joan Sutherland and June Bronhill and tenor Donald Smith to public notice.
There were also radio dramas such as No Holiday for Halliday, Sincerely Rita Marsden, My Imprisoned Heart, A Woman in Love, Inspector West, and Lone Star Lannigan.
Hector Crawford married Glenda Raymond on 10 November 1950.
Crawfords became the first independent producer to screen a programme on Australian television. Wedding Day was a games/quiz show, in which newly married couples came into the studio straight from their wedding reception, in the hope of winning prizes. It premiered on HSV-7 on 10 November 1956 (his own 6th wedding anniversary) and ran for 39 weeks.
Australia's first hour-long television drama series, Consider Your Verdict premiered in 1961, and the hugely successful police drama Homicide in 1964, which lasted till 1977. Then came Showcase (1965–69; a major talent quest that discovered a large number of big names; Hector Crawford also conducted the Showcase Orchestra), Hunter (1967–69), The Box (1974–77), The Sullivans (1976–82), the miniseries All the Rivers Run (1983), as well as Division 4, Matlock Police, Cop Shop, Skyways, The Flying Doctors and Carson's Law, among other programs. At one point, all of the country's then three commercial television networks were showing Crawford studio dramas.
In the 1970s he was involved in the Make It Australian campaign to encourage more locally produced television content. The Whitlam Government appointed Crawford a member of the Australian Film and Television School in 1973, and a member of the Australian Film Commission in 1974.
Hector Crawford was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the New Year's Honours of 1968, "in recognition of service as Director of Music for the People". In the Queen's Birthday Honours of 1980, he was raised to Commander of the order (CBE), "in recognition of service to the arts".
Industry and other honours
Hector Crawford was awarded special Logie Awards in 1969, 1971, 1975 and 1976, for outstanding contribution to Australian television and show business. In 1984, he was the first inductee into the Logie Hall of Fame.
Other awards included the Footlighter's Award, the Colin Bednall Award, the Chips Rafferty Memorial Award, the Sir Charles McGrath Award of the Australian Marketing Institute, an Advance Australia Award, the Hartnett Medal of the Royal Society of Arts, the Sir Arthur Cowan Award, the inaugural BHP Australian Television Festival Award for Excellence, and Life Membership of the Screen Production Association of Australia (SPAA).