Broderick Crawford was an American actor who appeared in films, television shows, and radio shows. He was best known for his roles in the films “All the King’s Men” and “Highway Patrol.” He began his career on stage, where he rose to prominence for his portrayal of the mentally handicapped ‘Lennie’ in the play ‘Of Mice and Men.’ Soon after, he was cast in Hollywood films, and his Oscar-winning performance as corrupt politician ‘Willy Stark’ in ‘All the King’s Men’ cemented his reputation. In the film ‘Born Yesterday,’ he was finally able to show off his comedy abilities. He formed a unique leading man in outstanding, small-scale movies like ‘The Mob’ and ‘Scandal Sheet,’ with his tough-guy features and gruff voice. His most well-known role at the time, though, was in the hit television series ‘Highway Patrol.’ He continued to act in Hollywood and on television for more than 20 years after the show ended. His reputation in the industry gradually deteriorated as a result of minor appearances in second and third grade films, as well as his long-term drinking problem. Despite this, he continued to work well into his eighties and was rarely unemployed. During his career, he appeared in 140 films and television programs, and his performances left an everlasting imprint.
Childhood and Adolescence
Lester Crawford and Helen Broderick gave him the name William Broderick Crawford on December 9, 1911 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Helen was a popular vaudeville performer, while Lester was a Broadway and film actress. He used to accompany his parents on vaudeville tours as a child. He even appeared in a few of their humor satires in minor roles.
He went to the Dean Academy in Franklin, Massachusetts, where he excelled in sports such as football, baseball, and swimming. On his parents’ encouragement, he later enrolled at Harvard University. He dropped out of Harvard after three weeks to work as a stevedore on the New York docks. Following that, he did numerous jobs such as professional boxing, becoming a fit seaman aboard tankers, and so on. He eventually went back to acting on the radio.
Career of Broderick Crawford
Broderick Crawford made his Broadway debut in ‘She Loves Me Not’ (1934) at the Adelphi Theatre in London, after which he returned to performing via radio. He rose to prominence as an actor in John Steinbeck’s Broadway version of “Of Mice and Men” due to his muscular appearance (1937). He then relocated to Hollywood, where he appeared in a supporting role in the production of ‘Beau Geste’ in 1939. Following that, he had a minor role in ‘Larceny, Inc.,’ a 1942 gangster comedy satire.
Because he didn’t fit the typical description of an attractive leading man, his career was primarily limited to ‘B films’ in supporting roles until then. Despite this, he was particularly good at playing villains. He joined the US Army Air Corps during World War II. As a sergeant, he went to Britain in 1944 to work as a radio announcer for the Armed Forces Network. He included live musical performances by performers such as Glenn Miller on his show.
In the 1949 film ‘All the King’s Men,’ he played Willie Stark. The film was a big success, and his performance earned him an Academy Award nomination. In 1950, he starred in ‘Born Yesterday,’ another huge A-list film. His flexibility was demonstrated in films such as Phil Karlson’s ‘Scandal Sheet’ (1952), Fritz Lang’s ‘Human Desire’ (1954), Federico Fellini’s ‘Il bidone’ (1955), and Stanley Kramer’s ‘Not as a Stranger’ (1955).
In the 1955 film ‘Big House, U.S.A.,’ he played the most violent criminal, Rollo Lamar. His character in the film is a hardened prisoner who can get even the hardest offenders to submit. He also played ‘Dan Mathews’ in the television series ‘Highway Patrol’ in 1955. Despite the fact that the show was fictional, his portrayal of a gruff cop was so genuine that it became an instant hit and resurrected his career. Due of the show’s rigorous schedule, he left in 1959.
Between ‘Highway Patrol’ and ‘Between Heaven and Hell,’ he starred in Richard Fleischer’s ‘Between Heaven and Hell,’ and Russell Rouse’s ‘The Fastest Gun Alive,’ both of which were released in 1956.
In the television series ‘King of Diamonds,’ he also portrayed the lead role of a diamond business security chief. After a single season, the show was canceled. He returned to film acting in 1962. He appeared in European films like Vittorio Cottafavi’s ‘La vendetta di Ercole’ (1960) and Javier Setó’s ‘The Castilian’ on a regular basis (1963).
He appeared in roughly seventeen films between 1962 and 1970, some of which were not particularly successful. He then returned to watching television. He starred as Dr. Peter Goldstone in ‘The Interns’ from 1970 to 1971, and as J. Edgar Hoover in ‘The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover’ from 1977. He also made a number of television appearances. In a 1982 television series episode of ‘Simon and Simon,’ he played a film director who is assassinated.
Major Projects of Broderick Crawford
Broderick Crawford is most known for his Oscar-winning performance in ‘All the King’s Men,’ in which he played Willie Stark (1949). The character was based on the popular novel by Robert Penn Warren and was inspired on the life of Louisiana politician Huey Long. He is well noted for his roles in the television series ‘Highway Patrol’ (1955) and as Judy Holliday’s vivacious boyfriend in the film ‘Born Yesterday’ (1950).
Achievements & Awards
Broderick Crawford earned the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as the arrogant and brash Governor Willie Stark in ‘All the King’s Men’ (1949).
On the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he has two stars: one for motion films at 6901 Hollywood Boulevard, and another for television at 6734 Hollywood Boulevard.
Personal History and Legacy
Crawford struggled with alcoholism and gluttony for the most of his adult life. This resulted in significant weight gain in the 1950s, as well as multiple injuries on the set of ‘Highway Patrol.’ He married three times, the first being Kay Griffith on November 20, 1940, whom he divorced on August 19, 1958. Together, the couple has two children.
Following that, he married Joan Tabor on January 4, 1962, and they divorced on April 26, 1967. Finally, on August 8, 1973, he married Mary Alice Moore. Until his death, the couple remained together. Broderick Crawford died on April 26, 1986, in Rancho Mirage, California, at the age of 74, after suffering a series of strokes.
Estimated Net Worth
Broderick is one of the wealthiest and most well-known actors in Hollywood. Broderick Crawford’s net worth is estimated to be $17 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.