Crawford, Cheryl, 1902-1986

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1902-09-24
Death 1986-10-07

Biographical notes:

Producer/director Cheryl Crawford (1902-1986) was a founding member of the Group Theatre in 1931, and of the Actors Studio in 1947.

Born in Akron, Ohio, Crawford became involved with the Theatre Guild in the 1920s, first as secretary, later as actress and stage manager, and ultimately as casting director. With Lee Strasberg she co-directed the Group Theatre's first production, THE HOUSE OF CONNELLY, in 1931, and went on to direct and/or produce many plays in the decades which followed, on Broadway and off, including ONE TOUCH OF VENUS, the 1942 revival of PORGY AND BESS, BRIGADOON, FLAHOOLEY, and SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH. Cheryl Crawford co-founded the Actors Studio with Lee Strasberg, Elia Kazan, and Robert Lewis, and remained with that organization until her death.

From the description of Cheryl Crawford papers, 1920-1986. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 144651911

Producer and director Cheryl Crawford was born Sept. 24, 1902 in Akron, Ohio to Louella E. (Parker) and Robert K. Crawford. Crawford died on Oct. 7, 1986 in New York City.

Although involved in at least one high school dramatic production, Crawford began her formal acting career while at Smith College, when she became involved with Smith College Dramatic Association. While a student, she produced Shakuntala, a Native American drama. During the summer of 1924 Crawford was associated with the Provincetown Players of Cape Cod. In 1925 she graduated from Smith College, cum laude.

Following graduation, Crawford attended a school managed by the Theatre Guild in New York City. She worked with the Theatre Guild until 1930, working first as a secretary and a third assistant manager. Later she worked as a casting director and general assistant on Theatre Guild productions.

In 1930 Crawford left the Theatre Guild to form the Group Theatre, sharing the responsibilities as director of the group with Harold Clurman and Lee Strasberg. During this period she directed Big Night (1933), Till the Day I Die (1935), and Weep for the Virgins (1935) as well as assisting with the direction of the first production by the Group Theatre, The House of Connelly (1931). She left the Group Theatre in 1937 to begin directing on her own.

Between 1937 and her death in 1986 Crawford was involved in the production of more than 100 shows. From 1937 through 1945 Crawford worked primarily on Broadway. While working at the Maplewood Theatre in New Jersey, 1940-1942, she produced different shows on a weekly basis and worked with such stars as Tallulah Bankhead, Ingrid Bergman, Gloria Swanson in productions such as The Time of Your Life and Charley's Aunt.

In 1946 Crawford formed the American Repertory Theatre with Eva Le Gallienne and Margaret Webster. In 1947 Crawford united with Robert Lewis and Elia Kazan to form the Actors Studio. Crawford served as both a member of the board of directors and as an executive producer during the Actors Studio Theatre, which ran during 1963 and 1964.

Crawford was active as a producer for fifty-five years, co-producing So Long on Lonely Street in 1986. During that time she produced musicals such as Brigadoon, Porgy and Bess, Paint Your Wagon, and Celebration. Crawford also produced four Tennessee Williams plays, among them Sweet Bird of Youth, in which Paul Newman starred, and Period of Adjustment. Some of the highlights from productions during the last decades of her life include Yentl, Mother Courage and Her Children, and Do You Turn Somersaults.

Crawford's awards include an honorary Doctor of Literature from Smith College, awarded in 1962, and an Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award in 1951 for Tennessee William's The Rose Tattoo. She was named Woman of the Year in 1959. In 1964 she was awarded an Achievement Medal from Brandeis University.

From the description of Cheryl Crawford papers, 1862-1981. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 60196985

1902Born in Akron, Ohio 1921Enters Smith College 1924Goes to the Provincetown Theatre on Cape Cod 1925Goes to New York and enrolls in the Theatre Guild School July 1926Directs for Theatre Guild summer stock company Fall 1926Becomes casting secretary for the Theatre Guild 1929Takes Theatre Guild production of Porgy to London Fall 1929Becomes stage manager for Theatre Guild production 1931Founds Group Theatre with Harold Clurman and Lee Strasberg 1935Visits Moscow and Moscow Art Theatre with Harold Clurman 1937Begins working as an independent producer 1940First season of Crawford running the Maplewood Theatre 1942Maplewood Theatre closes; Porgy and Bess opens at the Majestic Theatre October 1943One Touch of Venus opens 1944Broadway revival of Porgy and Bess opens 1945Involvement in the beginning of ANTA 1946Produces for the American Repertory Theatre 1947ANTA begins experimental theatre project at the Princess Theatre 1947Actors' Studio founded; Brigadoon opens 1948Rejects offer to produce Death of a Salesman ; Paint Your Wagon opens 1951Lee Strasberg becomes Artistic Director of Actors' Studio 1951Resigns from ANTA 1956Leonard Bernstein introduces the project West Side Story 1957Rejects opportunity to produce West Side Story 1959Sweet Bird of Youth opens 1962Becomes involved with Actors' Studio 1963Opening of Actors' Studio Theatre 1964Actors' Studio Theatre closes - final production The Three Sisters 1966Produces Chu Chem 1974Yentl opens 1986Cheryl Crawford dies

Producer / director Cheryl Crawford was a founding member of the Group Theatre in 1931, and of the Actors Studio in 1947. Born in Akron, Ohio, Crawford became involved with the Theatre Guild in the 1920s, first as secretary, later as actress and stage manager, and ultimately as casting director. With Lee Strasberg she co-directed the Group Theatre's first production The House of Connelly in 1931 and went on to direct and/or produce many plays in the decades which followed, on Broadway and off, including One Touch of Venus, the 1942 revival of Porgy and Bess, Brigadoon, Flahooley, and Sweet Bird of Youth . Cheryl Crawford co-founded the Actors Studio with Lee Strasberg, Elia Kazan, and Robert Lewis, and remained with that organization until her death in 1986.

From the guide to the Cheryl Crawford papers, 1920-1986, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

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Subjects:

  • Theatrical producers and directors
  • Theater
  • Theater--New York (State)--New York

Occupations:

  • Theatrical producers and directors

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)