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Finding Aid for the Harry Crane Papers, ca. 1915-late 1990s (bulk 1940s-1980s)
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Harry Crane Papers
    Date (inclusive): 1915-1990s,
    Date (bulk): (bulk 1940s-1980s) ca. 1915-late 1990s (bulk 1940s-1980s)
    Collection number: 203
    Creator: Crane, Harry, 1914-1999
    Extent: 170 boxes (85 linear ft.); 4 Cartons (4 linear feet); and 4 flat boxes (ca. 3 linear feet)
    Abstract: Comedic writer Harry Crane started his career as a standup comic. During his long career Crane wrote for a number of renowned entertainers, but is best remembered for developing the popular television creation, The Honeymooners. The collection consists of script files, gag files, humor topical publications, and a small amount of awards, audio visual material, books, business files, clippings, correspondence, memorabilia, and photographs related to Cranes' prolific career writing for radio, television, and motion pictures as well as his long association with popular entertainers.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Performing Arts Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Performing Arts Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Advance notice required for access.
    Audio visual portions of this collection are restricted and require advance notice for use.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Performing Arts Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift, 2000.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Harry Crane Papers (Collection 203). Performing Arts Special Collections, UCLA Library.


    Harry Kravitsky (later changed to Crane) was born in 1914 in Brooklyn, New York. He started his show business career playing kiddy shows as a teenager, becoming a standup comedian by age 19. His radio writing career spanned the 1930s through to the early 1950s working on a variety of programs such as Abbott and Costello, The Jack Caron Show, Blue Ribbon Town, The Danny Thomas Show, The Jack Carson Show, The Jimmy Durante Show, The Joan Davis Show, and Songs for Sale, among others. In the 1940s, he was recruited by MGM to write Hollywood films earning his first credit with Air Raid Wardens (1943). During his eight year association with MGM he continued writing for radio and adding to his screenwriting credits with The Harvey Girls (1946), Lost in a Harem (1944), Two Sisters from Boston (1946), and Ziegfeld Follies (1946), among others. As a screen writer, Crane developed his skill for characterization and comedy construction that served him throughout his career.
    Crane's television career started early in the 1950s developing the Jan Murray Songs for Sale program. From there, he went on to be involved in a number of popular variety shows. He also began his association with Jackie Gleason in the early 1950s working on the television program Cavalcade of Stars. Gleason asked Crane and Joe Bigelow, another staff writer, to help develop a sketch about a working-class man living in a small Brooklyn flat which developed into the Honeymooners. The popular Honeymooner's segment moved to CBS as part of The Jackie Gleason Show and eventually became a half-hour situation comedy during the 1955-56 television season. Crane was also the principal writer for the Gleason variety show, thus creating several of Jackie Gleason's other memorable characters. Crane developed a long working relation with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis on T he Colgate Comedy Hour. He continued to work with Martin in later years on various projects among them The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, The Dean Martin Comedy Hour, and The Dean Martin Show. Crane also had a long record of scripting award presentation shows, among them the Academy Awards (1957 and 1959), the Golden Globes (1968), and the Emmy Awards (1968, 1971, 1973, 1974). He wrote a special Oscar tribute to Jackie Gleason for the Academy Awards presentation in 1987.
    In addition to his many motion picture, radio, and television project credits, during his career Crane wrote for a number of renowned entertainers such as Milton Berle, Joey Bishop, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, Alan King, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Frank Sinatra, Danny Thomas and Andy Williams, among others. Crane even wrote humorous material for national politicians. Over the years, he wrote for and befriended a variety of entertainers and at the same time he encouraged and boosted the careers of younger contemporaries such as Mel Brooks and Neil Simon. Crane continued to make valuable contributions to the entertainment industry providing comedic as well as serious and dramatic material to Hollywood's elite until his death in Los Angeles, California, on September 13, 1999.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of material related to the career of comedic writer Harry Crane. The collection includes script files, gag files, humor topical publications, and a small amount of awards, audio visual material, books, business files, clippings, correspondence, memorabilia, and photographs documenting Crane's prolific career writing for radio, television, motion pictures and special appearance performance projects.
    The script files includes various drafts of complete and partial scripts, monologues, and other writings such as sketches, bits, and inserts, among others, for a variety of radio, television, and motion pictures projects. In addition, there are writings for special/live performances for a number of well-known entertainers. The radio writings include material for popular programs such as The Abbott and Costello Show, Blue Ribbon Town, The Jimmy Durante Show, The Edgar Bergen Show, The Danny Thomas Show, The Joan Davis Show, The Jack Carson Show, and Songs for Sale, among many others. The television writings comprise materials for a number of popular television variety shows such as Academy and Emmy award shows, The Andy Williams Show, the Colgate Comedy Hour, numerous Dean Martin show incarnations including Dean Martin celebrity roasts, The Frank Sinatra Show, The Joey Bishop Show, and Perry Como specials, among others. Of particular note are Crane's original writings for Jackie Gleason and The Honeymooners, which includes original bits, ideas, and script material. The motion picture writings include material for Air Warden and Harvey Girls, among other endeavors. The special appearances writings reflect Crane's long association with a number of entertainers including Paul Anka, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Danny Thomas, and Andy Williams, among others. There is also a small amount of unique writings that appear to be authored by Crane and written specifically for friends' personal events or activities. In addition there are a number of unidentified project files that contain a mixture of bits, ideas, inserts, monologues, saves, sketches, and scripts.
    The small amount of business files contain fragmentary records of business and financial dealings related to Crane's career and include Crane's perseverance regarding credits and/or residual compensation associated with The Honeymooners or Jackie Gleason related creations. Crane's gag file includes a topical based mix of one liners and jokes compiled by Crane (it is not certain how many are his original ideas). The humor topical publications include a compilation of topical jokes, skits, and comedic lines for comedic professionals. Among the publications are Fun-Master Monthly's The Comedian and Orben's Current Comedy among others. The small library of hardback and soft back books collected by Crane comprise a mix of joke books, books about the Honeymooners, Jackie Gleason, the entertainment industry, and other assorted topics.
    The correspondence consists of a small number of brief letters and/or notes from friends or business associates to Crane and of particular note are original thank you notes from Senator Hubert Humphrey and Senator John F. Kennedy. The photographs are a mixture of color and black and white images reflecting Crane's personal and professional life and include candid and publicity photographs of Crane by himself and/or with family, friends, and/or colleagues. Among those pictured are Barbara, Stephanie, Lillian and Harry Crane, Melissa and Sarah Gilbert, Milton Berle, Steve Allen and Jayne Meadows, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Jackie Gleason, and Andy Williams among others.
    The small quantity of audio and video tapes, awards, and printed materials in the collection further document Crane's many associations and long career in the entertainment industry. The bulk of the audio visual material contains "home" audio and video recordings collected by Crane and appear to be related to his career. The small number of items documenting awards and honors bestowed upon Crane during his career include laminated and original certificates from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Printed materials are mainly a mix of newspaper and magazine clippings collected by Crane that are about Crane, projects in which he was involved, his family and/or his colleagues, and/or other topics of interest such as comedy.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    • Series 1. Motion Picture Projects
    • Series 2. Radio Projects
    • Series 3. Special Appearances
    • Series 4. Television Projects
    • Series 5. Awards
    • Series 6. Audio Visual Materials
    • Series 7. Baseball Memorabilia
    • Series 8. Books
    • Series 9. Business Files
    • Series 10. Correspondence
    • Series 12. Crane Family
    • Series 13. Gag Files
    • Series 14. Harry Crane Writings
    • Series 15. Humor Topicals
    • Series 16. Music
    • Series 17. Personal and Biographical
    • Series 18. Photographs
    • Series 19. Printed Material
    • Series 20. Unidentified Projects

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Crane, Harry--Archives.
    Television comedy writers--Archival resources.
    Radio comedy writers--Archival resources.

    Genres and Forms of Material

    television scripts.
    radio scripts.