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Oscar-Winning Actor Broderick Crawford Dead at 74

April 27, 1986 GMT

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) _ Broderick Crawford, the gruff and jowly Oscar-winning actor who died at age 74, waged a lifelong battle with alcoholism that kept him from becoming a great actor, his longtime agent said.

″He could have been the greatest, but the one problem that always did him in was the bottle,″ Al Melnick said after Crawford’s death Saturday. ″Brod was a two-bottle-a-day guy.″

Crawford suffered a stroke last year and died at Eisenhower Medical Center, Melnick said. Funeral services will be private.

Crawford won the 1949 Academy Award and New York Critics Award for his portrayal of political boss Willie Stark in the movie ″All the King’s Men.″ His television role as Chief Dan Mathews in the syndicated 1950s series ″Highway Patrol″ was his only other major success.

His private life was often troubled. Married three times and twice divorced, divorce lawsuits against him alleged mistreatment. He was arrested twice for drunken driving.

The Willie Stark role held the promise of a bright future for Crawford, who had been a Broadway actor in the 1930s, worked as a stevedore and merchant seaman between engagements and served in the Army Air Corps during World War II.

After a series of uneventful films, Melnick arranged for Crawford to meet Robert Rossen, who was adapting Robert Penn Warren’s ″All the King’s Men″ for the screen. It is the story of a Southern political boss based loosely on the life of Lousiana Gov. Huey Long.

″As soon as Rossen saw Brod,″ Melnick recalled, ″he said, ’I don’t have to test him. He’s my man.‴

Crawford followed ″All the King’s Men″ with a well-received comic performance in ″Born Yesterday,″ but he was then cast in a series of unrewarding movie roles.

John Ireland, who also appeared in ″All the King’s Men,″ said the success of the film prompted Columbia Pictures to once again pair the actors.

″Well, the film turned out to be ‘Cargo to Capetown,’ starring Brod and myself, and it was terrible,″ said Ireland, who recalled the days when he and Crawford lived a block apart in the San Fernando Valley.

″A wonderful time and a wonderful man,″ Ireland said.

Between 1955 and 1959, Crawford appeared in 156 episodes of ″Highway Patrol,″ creating a lasting image of his character leaning against a patrol car with a microphone in hand, answering a radio message with a gruff ″10-4.″ The phrase become part of everyday language.

He also starred in two short-lived television series, ″Ace of Diamonds″ and ″The Interns.″

Among his movie credits were ″The Real Glory,″ ″Eternally Yours,″ ″I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby,″ ″Sin Town,″ ″Slave Girl,″ ″The Time of Your Life,″ ″Convicts 4″ and ″Between Heaven and Hell.″

Crawford was born in Philadelphia on Dec. 9, 1911, to Broadway performers Lester Crawford and Helen Broderick. He was first carried on stage at age 8 months.

His two sons, Chris and Kelly, and their mother, Kay Crawford, whom he married in 1941, were with him when he died, said hospital spokesman Mike McFadden.

After his divorce from his first wife, he married Joan Tabor, whom he divorced in 1967. He then married Mary Alice Michel, who survives.