Downtown Wichita Falls, Texas, in the mid 1940’s was a bustling metropolis for a boy of 7 just away from the farm and ranch community where he was born. My father, a cook and cowboy by trade, had just started as one of the first cooks for the Casa Manana restaurant in 1947. He moved us to an apartment on Ohio Street, right across from the Gem Theater, between 7th and 8th Streets. It’s here that we would stay for the next three years. The Gem Theater became a magic palace for a young mind. But it had to share that distinction with the rest of the magic that was Wichita Falls. I attended San Jacinto and Carrigan elementary schools, as well as Reagan Junior High, and belonged to the Boys Club on 6th Street. Please join, and share your stories and pictures through a Guest Blog, of early Wichita Falls - or your home town. Contact me at or leave a comment. We could use old pictures of movie houses, drive-in theaters, and other nostalgic pictures related to our youths.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon

Buster Crabb had the honor of portraying at least three iconic characters on the Big Screen: Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and Tarzan. I have no doubt that if Doc Savage had been brought to movie serials, Buster Crabb would have played Doc.  Curious enough, when William Shatner was cast to play James T. Kirk, captain of the Enterprise on Star Trek, he looked a bit like Buster Crabb. I wonder if that was just a coincidence?
Buster wasn’t a great actor, but he had the heroic looks, and was a great action star. Although his Tarzan portrayal is forgettable, his role as Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon remain popular among fans long after those serials played at the local movie houses.
There were three Flash Gordon serials: Flash Gordon, 1938, a 13 chapter serial from Universal, staring Jean Rogers as Dale Arden, and Charles Middleton as the villain, Emperor Ming; Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars, 1938 from Universal, a 15 chapter serial with Jean Rogers as Dale Arden, and Charles Middleton as Emperor Ming; and finally, Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe, 1940 from Universal, a 12 chapter serial with Carol Hughes as Dale Arden, and Charles Middleton as Emperor Ming. Buster Crabb played Flash Gordon in all three serials.
Buck Rogers & Buddy Wade

         In 1939, Universal took a break from Flash Gordon, and brought Buster Crabb over to play Buck Rogers in a 12-chapter serial. Constance Moore played Wilma, and Jackie Moran played Buck’s sidekick, Buddy Wade.
         These were thrilling Saturday Matinee serials, though special effects at the time was lacking, and rocket ships and ray guns looked exactly like what they were – toys, and monsters were men in rubber suits. But for young kids watching each chapter at their local theater every week, they were real.

No comments:

Post a Comment