Posts Tagged ‘Robert Crawford Jr.’

Fuller, Crawford, and Grey Flannel

In my continuing passion for finding extras in old movies, here’s an interesting connection between favorites Robert Fuller and Johnny Crawford.  They were both extras in The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit (1956) starring Gregory Peck.  Fuller appears as a soldier in a scene at a field medical station.  This scene also features DeForest Kelley; both actors went on to play well-known television doctors.   Johnny Crawford plays a boy in Italy delivering a box of groceries.  His older brother, Robert Crawford Jr, co-starred in Laramie with Fuller three years later.

Robert Fuller in The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit

Robert Fuller in The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit

Robert Fuller in The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit

Robert Fuller in The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit

Johnny Crawford in The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit

Johnny Crawford in The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit

This entire movie is on YouTube.  Crawford’s moment is at 0:29:50, and Fuller appears at the 0:49:45 mark.

Remembering Don Grady

Don Grady has passed away at the age of 68.  I woke to the news this morning when I visited facebook.  I grew up watching My Three Sons, became obsessed with The Mickey Mouse Club in reruns in the early 70s, and watched Grady in his guest roles on The Rifleman just this year.

Born in San Francisco (or San Diego, since different sites disagree) on June 8, 1944, Grady was a musical prodigy.  He was a third season mouseketeer on The Mickey Mouse Club.  After that, he had guest roles on shows like The Rifleman (in the episodes Heller and The Patsy) and Wagon Train.  He was almost signed for the part of Andy Sherman on the western series Laramie, but the role went instead to Robert Crawford Jr.  (More about this here.)  Grady was then cast in My Three Sons, which ran from 1960-1971.

Many younger viewers of My Three Sons thought Grady’s Robbie was the oldest son, because we never got to see the black and white seasons in syndication.  Tim Considine (Mike) was actually the oldest, but he left the show—er, went off to college.  Not enough sons?  Okay, let’s adopt Ernie.  How convenient that he looks an awful lot like Chip.  (Barry and Stanley Livingston are real life brothers.)   The series ran for so long, Grady’s character got married and had three sons of his own—triplets, no less.  I went to elementary school in San Diego for one year with those triplets.  Well, one set of them, anyway.  Don’t ask me if they were the Swansons or the Todds!  It was too long ago.  We weren’t in the same grade, but the kids were always talking about them.

Grady was in a band that had a hit called The Yellow Balloon in 1967.  That’s the name of the band and the song.  He went on to have a long, successful career as a composer.  His death yesterday from cancer has shocked and saddened his many friends and fans.  RIP, Don Grady.

Don Grady in The Rifleman (The Patsy, season 2)

Don Grady in The Rifleman (The Patsy, season 2)

Don Grady in The Rifleman (The Patsy, season 2)

Don Grady in The Rifleman (The Patsy, season 2)

The Yellow Balloon (1967)  Don Grady is in the wig and sunglasses.

The Yellow Balloon (1967) Don Grady is in the wig and sunglasses.

Cowboys and Blondes

There’s an interesting connection between the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and the TV western Laramie (1959-63).  Actually, two connections.

Laramie star Robert Fuller grew up dancing, which isn’t surprising, since his mother and stepfather were both dancers and instructors.  Fuller danced in the chorus of several movies, including the famous number “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  With his sideburns dyed grey and a grey mustache, I spotted young Fuller (age 19 or 20) just once, in this shot behind Marilyn Monroe.

Young dancer Robert Fuller behind Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Young dancer Robert Fuller behind Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Soon after Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Robert Fuller was drafted.  He served for two years in Korea before returning to LA in 1955.  He spent several years working as an extra and a stuntman.  He took acting lessons from Richard Boone, guest-starred in many TV series, and went on to play Jess Harper in Laramie, his first starring role.  Retired now and ranching in Texas, he appears at various western festivals, talking to fans about his fifty years of work.  I’d love to hear him tell about this particular shoot!

The other Laramie connection?  Hoagy Carmichael wrote the music for two of the songs performed in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: “Is Anyone Here for Love?” and “When Love Goes Wrong.”  Carmichael later played Jonsey in season one of Laramie, with Robert Fuller, John Smith and Robert Crawford, Jr.  Hollywood was once a place where chorus boys and songwriters could grow up to be cowboys!

Robert Fuller (Jess Harper) and Hoagy Carmichael (Jonsey) in Laramie

Robert Fuller (Jess Harper) and Hoagy Carmichael (Jonsey) in Laramie

(L to R) Hoagy Carmichael, Robert Fuller, and Robert Crawford Jr. in Laramie (with John Hoyt's back)

(L to R) Hoagy Carmichael, Robert Fuller, and Robert Crawford Jr. in Laramie (with John Hoyt’s back)

Marilyn Monroe in Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend. I had to include this one just because I love pink.

Laramie

It was inevitable that I would get into the television series Laramie (1959-63).   Once I’d watched every episode of The Rifleman, it was only matter of time before I turned to another western.  Why Laramie?   Just keeping it in the family, so to speak.  Johnny Crawford co-stars in The Rifleman, and his older brother Robert Crawford Jr. co-stars in Laramie, at least in the first season and the beginning of the second.  I’d never watched Laramie before I purchased season one on DVD, since it wasn’t syndicated widely.  The DVDs have only been recently released, and the image quality is pretty poor.  The color seasons (three and four) are even worse, but the series is good enough to keep me watching.

Slim Sherman (John Smith) is raising his kid brother Andy (Crawford) at the family ranch, which is also a stage stop on the way to Laramie, Wyoming.  Old Jonesy (Hoagy Carmichael) helps out around the place.  In the pilot, drifter Jess Harper (Robert Fuller) clashes with Slim but is immediately welcomed by Andy.  Naturally, Jess sticks around to become a part of the family.   The plots tend to swing back and forth between stories centering on either Slim or Jess, who are often away from the ranch having adventures in nearby towns or out in the wilderness.  Sometimes they get pretty far from home—The Run to Tumavaca takes them all the way to Mexico.  Andy and Jonesy usually always get left behind.  This is probably why these two characters fade away by the time season two gets rolling.  An elderly housekeeper (the delightful Spring Byington) and an orphan (Dennis Holmes) join Jess and Slim for seasons three and four.

Robert Fuller as Jess Harper in Laramie with John Smith (Slim Sherman), Robert Crawford Jr. and Hoagy Carmichael

Laramie, featuring (center clockwise) John Smith, Robert Fuller, Robert Crawford Jr. and Hoagy Carmichael. (click to see larger versions)

Slim is pretty uptight and stern at the start of the series, but he loosens up and gets more interesting as his relationship with Jess develops.  Jess is an impulsive hothead, but his character mellows somewhat under Slim’s influence.  I only knew Robert Fuller from his years on Emergency!  He’s definitely my favorite actor in Laramie.  He makes a great cowboy.

All four seasons of Laramie are available on DVD.  Netflix has seasons three and four only.

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