As a director of comedies with small budgets, Frank Strayer showed considerable talent. Beginning in the silent days, Strayer was considered a capable hand with second features. He directed, among many efforts, several horror films with comic overtones which featured such monster-movie stalwarts as Lionel Atwill and Dwight Frye; a Joe E. Brown vehicle. A graduate of Carnegie Tech and the Pennsylvania Military Academy, Frank Strayer saw service in the U.S. Navy during World War I as an ensign, and after the war joined Metro studios--later MGM--as an assistant director and sometime actor. He moved to Columbia Pictures during the '20s and carved out a successful career for himself in "B"-pictures (in fairness, Columbia only had one confirmed "A"-director in those years, Frank Capra), including the dozen or more entries in the Blondie movie series, starring Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake. Strayer also directed the "Blondie" star, Penny Singleton, in a musical, Go West, Young Lady, in 1938. Besides Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake, Strayer guided many comedy performers through their paces, including Mischa Auer, Willie Best, Gene Lockhart, Jonathan Hale, Esther Dale, William Frawley, Edgar Kennedy, and Mary Wickes. In later years, Strayer turned to religious themes, directing films with titles such as Messenger of Peace (1950), and The Sickle or the Cross (1951). He also directed one early-sound horror film that occasionally gets reshown to interested audiences, The Vampire Bat (1932).
by Bruce Eder biography