Yup, the guy pictured above is Buster Crabbe, who had a long and varied career.
Our man Donald Gordon was not only his friend but his his stand-in for many years. (This snapshot is part of our Donald Gordon Collection.)
You ask, who is Donald Gordon? (We’ve told you about Donald in past blogs, but much about him is worth repeating here.) The late Donald was a young actor who found himself under contract at Columbia Pictures during World War II.
The studios in this wartime period were a bit less fussy about male hires, so Donald made the grade although he never quite made it big. He appears to have spent much of his time making friends on and off the studio lot, made easier by the fact that Donald was an outgoing, amiable type, easy to like.
Because he had a fleeting resemblance to Crabbe, Donald worked as the actor’s stand-in. That’s Donald with Buster in our bottom photo today, and we think the resemblance between them is indeed fleeting. In any case, Crabbe at the time he posed with Donald was often regarded as the poor man’s Johnny Weissmuller.
Donald’s pal was born Clarence Lindon Crabbe on Feb. 17, 1907 in Oakland, Cal., and had a long professional run. He parlayed his athleticism — as an Olympic swim champion — into wannabe Weissmuller status in 1933’s “Tarzan the Fearless.” This was followed by various serials of the 30′ s and 40’s, notably as Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and Billy the Kid (with Al “Fuzzy” St. John as his comic sidekick).
There directly below is handsome devil Crabbe as Flash with actress Jean Rogers. (This staged shot is NOT from The Donald Gordon Collection.)
Buster worked right up to the 1950’s in television when he starred with his son, Cullen Crabbe, in the series Captain Gallant of the French Foreign Legion. (Directly below is another staged shot of Buster in character.) The adventure series ran from 1955 to 1957.
The actor was a private man, so it was a genuine token of his friendship with Donald to allow informal, candid shots to be taken of him and the family. (Again, that’s Donald standing to Buster’s left in the photo below.)
Crabbe died at 75 on April 23, 1983 in Scottsdale, Az.