Hector William Crawford
14 August 1913
|Died||11 March 1991 (aged 77)|
|Occupation(s)||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.
Hector Crawford married Melbourne coloratura soprano Glenda Raymond on 10 November 1950. They had two children.
Radio programs produced 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.
Most (if not all) of Crawford's radio programs were produced for 3DB (Melbourne), at which station Hector's brother, Curteis Crawford, was an administrator and, later, manager. Through 3DB these programs were also distributed to stations throughout Australia, particularly members of the Major Broadcasting Network of which 3DB was the founder.
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.
Music for the People
As well as his endeavours in the drama field, Hector Crawford was also interested in music and particularly orchestra conducting. In 1938 he produced the first Music for the People concert. These concerts were presented a number of times during each summer season on Sunday afternoons, firstly in the Fitzroy Gardens and from 1959 in the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. 3DB broadcast all Music for the People concerts from 1940. In latter years, the concerts were televised over HSV-7. The concerts were performed by an orchestra especially formed by Hector Crawford for the purpose, and known as the Australian Symphony Orchestra, and supplemented by a wide range of mainly well-known artistes. Originally, the concerts were composed of light classical music but, over the years, the format became lighter and lighter and even some pop music was later performed. A classic example of the latter occurred on 12 March 1967 when The Seekers performed at Music for the People; their performance being simulcast on 3DB and HSV 7. The Seekers concert was performed in front of the largest crowd ever for a concert event in Australia with an estimated 200,000 people attending. The 2007 Guinness Book of World Records lists it as the greatest attendance at a concert in the Southern Hemisphere in history. This attendance is also included in The Australian Book of Records.
Hector Crawford sold his controlling interests in Crawford Productions in 1987 and retired in 1989. He died in 1991, aged 77, survived by his wife Glenda Raymond and children, Joanne and Tim.
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".
In the Queen's Birthday Honours of 1986, he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), "for service to Australian television production".
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).
The "Hector Crawford Memorial Lecture" is given at the annual SPAA Conference. It is the major annual public statement on the screen production and broadcasting industries in Australia.
- ^ Lane, Richard (2000). The Golden Age of Australian Radio Drama Volume 2. National Film and Sound Archive. p. 106-111.
- ^ a b Obituaries Australia
- ^ a b c Australian Dictionary of Biography: Dorothy Crawford
- ^ a b c d e f "The Museum of Broadcast Communications". Archived from the original on 8 May 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
- ^ IMDb
- ^ a b The History of Crawfords Australia
- ^ a b "SPAA". Archived from the original on 16 April 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
- ^ Griffen-Foley, Bridget Changing Stations The Story of Australian Commercial Radio, UNSW Press, 2009, Sydney
- ^ McFarlane, 'The Seekers' entry. Archived from the original Archived 9 October 2004 at the Wayback Machine on 4 June 2004. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
- ^ Kimball, Duncan (2002). "The Seekers". Milesago: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964–1975. Ice Productions. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
- ^ International Who's Who in Popular Music (9th ed.). London: Routledge. 2007. p. 150. ISBN 978-1-85743-417-0.
- ^ McWhirter, Norris; McWhirter, Ross (1968). Guinness Book of World Records. New York: Sterling Pub. Co. p. 155.
- ^ "The Australian Book of Records". Retrieved 14 January 2019.
- ^ It's an Honour: OBE
- ^ It's an Honour: CBE
- ^ It’s an Honour: AO
- ^ Crawfords Australia
- ^ "SPAA". Archived from the original on 19 April 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
- 1913 births
- 1991 deaths
- Australian television producers
- Australian radio producers
- Australian conductors (music)
- Australian Commanders of the Order of the British Empire
- Logie Award winners
- Officers of the Order of Australia
- Businesspeople from Melbourne
- 20th-century conductors (music)
- 20th-century Australian musicians
- People from Fitzroy, Victoria