Frank Craven

Frank Craven (August 24, 1875  September 1, 1945)[1] was an American stage and film actor, playwright, and screenwriter, best known for originating the role of the Stage Manager in Thornton Wilder's Our Town.

Frank Craven
Frank Craven in 1922
Born(1875-08-24)24 August 1875
Died1 September 1945(1945-09-01) (aged 70)
Occupationactor, director, playwright, producer
Years active19281945
Spouse(s)Mazie B. Daly
ChildrenJohn Craven
Parent(s)John T. Craven
Ella Mayer Craven

Early years

Craven's parents, John T. Craven and Ella Mayer Craven,[2] were actors, and he first appeared on stage when he was three years old, in a child's part in The Silver King, in which his father was acting. His next appearance on stage occurred 13 years later in another production of the same play. That experience stirred an interest in acting as a career.[3]


Before he acted in films, Craven worked in stage productions, not limiting his activity to acting. "I would do anything around the place," he said.[3] He found later that work with carpentry, painting, and other backstage activities proved "invaluable" to him.[3] His initial success in New York came in the role of James Gilley in Bought and Paid For (1911). He also played the same role in a production in London.[4]

Craven was a character actor who often portrayed wry, small-town figures. His first film role was in We Americans (1928), and he appeared in State Fair (1933), Penrod and Sam (1937), Jack London (1943), and Son of Dracula (1943), among many others. He wrote numerous screenplays, most notably for the Laurel and Hardy film Sons of the Desert (1933). His IMDB biography credits him with 16 writing credits and 2 directing credits.

In 1938, Craven played the Stage Manager in Our Town on Broadway,[2] and reprised the role in the 1940 film version of the play. His son John Craven starred as George Gibbs in the stage version, a role played by William Holden in the 1940 film.

Craven died in 1945, shortly after finishing his work in Colonel Effingham's Raid.

Craven was a Republican who campaigned for Thomas Dewey in 1944.[5]


Year Title Role Notes
1928We AmericansUncredited
1929The Very IdeaAlan Camp
1932Handle with CareRadio Announcer
1933State FairStorekeeper
1934City LimitsJ.B. Matthews
1934He Was Her ManPop Sims, aka Jim Parker
1934Let's Talk It OverMr. Rockland
1934That's GratitudeBob Grant
1935Car 99Sheriff Pete Arnot
1935Vagabond Lady'Spiggy' Spiggins
1935Barbary CoastCol. Marcus Aurelius Cobb
1936It's Up To YouPop' Kane
1936Small Town GirlWill 'Pa' Brannan
1936The HarvesterMr. Biddle
1937Penrod and SamMr. Schofield
1937Blossoms on BroadwayP.J. Quinterfield Sr.
1937You're Only Young OnceFrank Redmond (Carvel Newspaper Owner)
1938Penrod and His Twin BrotherMr. Schofield
1939Miracles for SaleDad Morgan
1939Our Neighbors – The CartersDoc Carter
1940Our TownMr. Morgan
1940City for ConquestOld Timer
1940Dreaming Out LoudDr. Walter Barnes
1941The Lady from CheyenneHank Foreman
1941The Richest Man In TownAbb Crothers
1942In This Our LifeAsa Timberlake
1942Thru Different EyesSteve Pettijohn
1942Girl TroubleAmbrose Murdock Flint
1942Pittsburgh'Doc' Powers
1942Keeper of the FlameDr. Fielding
1943Harrigan's KidWalter Garnet
1943Dangerous BlondesInspector Joseph Clinton
1943Son of DraculaDoctor Brewster
1943Jack LondonOld Tom
1944My Best GalDanny O'Hara
1944DestinyClem Broderick
1945Forever YoursUncle Charles
1946Colonel Effingham's RaidDewey(final film role)


  1. U.S. Passport Application, Issue Date: 3-Jul-1919; National Archives Microfilm Publication M1490, Roll 0818, Certificate 93117; General Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  2. "Frank Craven". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on October 29, 2019. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  3. Sumner, Keene (August 1921). "He Didn't Want to be Poor All of His Life". The American Magazine. XCII (2): 34, 64, 66. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  4. "Frank Craven: American Actor and Author". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. Archived from the original on October 29, 2019. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  5. Critchlow, Donald T. (2013-10-21). When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics. ISBN 9781107650282.
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