Frank Craven

Active - 1925 - 1987  |   Born - Aug 24, 1875   |   Died - Sep 1, 1945   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Romance, Crime, Comedy Drama

Share on

Biography by Hal Erickson

American actor/playwright Frank Craven enjoyed a long stage career as both performer and writer. As an actor, he specialized in wry middle-aged small-town types. As a writer, he favored domestic comedies, usually centered around the tribulations of "normal" family life. Craven was so firmly locked into his particular style that he felt lost doing anything else. For several years during the silent film era, Craven had begged Harold Lloyd to allow him to sit in on the "gag sessions" for Lloyd's films, in order to contribute comedy ideas; after a particularly harrowing session with Lloyd's writers, who tossed gag ideas about at the tops of their voices, Craven admitted that slapstick wasn't his brand of humor and returned to the stage. Craven made his film bow in the 1928 "ethnic melting pot" drama We Americans, but when he was finally brought to Hollywood under contract to Fox in 1932, it was as a writer. One of Craven's best-known screenplays was for the Laurel and Hardy vehicle Sons of the Desert (1933), one of the comedy team's few feature films with a solid plot structure. Concentrating mainly on performing for most of his film career, Craven returned to Broadway in 1939 to play the Stage Manager in Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning Our Town. The actor was called upon to repeat the role in the 1940 film version, and thereafter most of his film roles were variations of the Stage Manager, complete with his ubiquitous pipe. Craven died in 1945 at age 70, shortly after completing his role in Colonel Effingham's Raid (1945).

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography