biography

Born Raymond Benitz on February 14, 1902, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, actor Ray 'Crash' Corrigan moved to California with his family in the late 1910s or early 1920s. Suffering from a spinal curvature in his youth, Corrigan trained with famed physical culturist Bernarr McFadden to correct the problem. He became such an avid student of bodybuilding that he began working for McFadden as a fitness trainer for Hollywood film stars in the 1920s and 1930s. MGM art director Cedric Gibbons, then working on Tarzan, the Ape Man (1932; with Johnny Weissmuller), saw the handsome, muscular trainer and encouraged Corrigan to work as a stunt double in the film. Afterward, he worked in a number of films, most often in uncredited roles, until he was offered a contract with Republic Pictures in late 1935. After signing with Republic, the studio heads changed his name to Ray Corrigan and bestowed upon him the nickname 'Crash' upon snagging the starring role in Republic's campy serial Undersea Kingdom, produced to compete with Universal's first Flash Gordon serial starring Buster Crabbe. Next, Republic cast him in The Three Mesquiteers (1936; with Robert Livingston), and the western proved to be so popular that the studio built a film series around it, adding Max Terhune to the mix for the follow-up Ghost-Town Gold (1936). When Livingston tired of role of Stony Brooke, John Wayne was brought in to replace him in 1938.

Ray Crash CorriganRay Crash Corrigan

Republic photos of Ray 'Crash' Corrigan from the 1930s

Upset by Republic's low pay scale, Corrigan left the studio with the completion of New Frontier (1939; with John Wayne and Raymond Hatton). He then worked out a production deal with Monogram Studios and made a string of Range Buster westerns, beginning with The Range Busters (1940; with John 'Dusty' King and Max Terhune). While this series lacked the production values of Republic's Three Mesquiteers series (although both were 'poverty row' studios, Monogram was a rung or two down from Republic), Corrigan was promoted to lead status and shared in the profits of the successful series. Corrigan also cast Max Terhune, who portrayed Lullaby Joslin in Republic's Three Mesquiteers series, as 'Alibi' Terhune in the new Monogram series. Of course, Monogram's Range Busters series bore more than a passing resemblance to Republic's Three Mesquiteers.

the films of ray 'crash' corrigan

Ghost-Town Gold (1936)

Ray Crash Corrigan, Max Terhune, and Robert Livingston

Promotional photo from the second film in Republic's Three Mesquiteers series, Ghost-Town Gold with Max Terhune and Robert Livingston. This was one of Terhune's first film appearances

Undersea Kingdom (1936)

Ray Crash Corrigan, Lee Van Atta, and Lon Chaney Jr.Ray Crash CorriganCrash CorriganRay Crash Corrigan

From Republic's thrilling-yet-campy science fiction serial Undersea Kingdom. LEFT: With Lee Van Atta and Lon Chaney Jr. CENTER: Crash Corrigan attempts to free Atlantis, and the world, from being conquered by the evil Unga Khan. RIGHT: As Unga Khan, Monte Blue keeps Crash under surveillance. Select chapters of this serial once aired on Mystery Science Theater 3000

Heart of the Rockies (1937)

Ray Crash Corrigan, Robert Livingston, Lynne Roberts, and Max Terhune

From Republic's Heart of the Rockies with Robert Livingston, Lynne Roberts, and Max Terhune

Range Defenders (1937)

Max Terhune, Robert Livingston, and Ray Crash Corrigan

The Three Mesquiteers (Max Terhune, Robert Livingston, and Crash Corrigan) rush to defend Stony's (Robert Livingston) brother from a trumped-up murder charge in Range Defenders

Overland Stage Raiders (1938)

Ray Crash Corrigan, John Wayne, and Max Terhune

From Republic's Overland Stage Raiders, part of the Three Mesquiteers series. Also pictured are John Wayne and Max Terhune

Red River Range (1938)

Ray Crash Corrigan and John Wayne

Corrigan and John Wayne round up a cattle rustler in Republic's Red River Range

Santa Fe Stampede (1938)

Dick Rush, Max Terhune, John Wayne, and Ray Crash Corrigan

With Dick Rush, Max Terhune, and John Wayne in Republic's Santa Fe Stampede

Come On, Cowboys! (1939)

Max Terhune, Robert Livingston, Ray Crash Corrigan, and Maxine DoyleMax Terhune, Robert Livingston, and Ray Crash Corrigan

LEFT: From Republic's Three Mesquiteers series Come On, Cowboys! with Max Terhune, Robert Livingston, and Maxine Doyle. RIGHT: Max Terhune as Lullaby Joslin, Robert Livingston as Stony Brooke, and Crash Corrigan as Tucson Smith

Three Texas Steers (1939)

Max Terhune, John Wayne, and Ray Crash Corrigan

From Republic's Three Texas Steers with Max Terhune and John Wayne

The Range Busters (1940)

Ray Crash Corrigan

The first entry in the popular Monogram series, The Range Busters was shot at Corriganville and was produced by Ray Corrigan

Underground Rustlers (1941)

John Dusty King, Gwen Gaze, Ray Crash Corrigan, and Rudy Sooter

With John 'Dusty' King, Gwen Gaze, and Rudy Sooter in Underground Rustlers

Boot Hill Bandits (1942)

Ray Crash Corrigan

In Monogram's Boot Hill Bandits, an entry in the Range Busters series, Marshal Crash Corrigan has just narrowly escaped death

Texas Trouble Shooters (1942)

Ray Crash Corrigan

Crash Corrigan attempts to foil a swindle in Monogram's Texas Trouble Shooters

Bullets and Saddles (1943)

Ray Crash Corrigan, Denny Moore, and Max Terhune

Amusing still from Monogram's Range Buster series entry Bullets and Saddles

Captive Wild Woman (1943)

John Carradine, Evelyn Ankers, and Ray Crash Corrigan

In Universal's campy horror flick Captive Wild Woman, mad scientist John Carradine turns an eye to Evelyn Ankers and decides to transform gorilla Crash Corrigan into beautiful Acquanetta

The White Gorilla (1946)

Ray Crash Corrigan, Francis Ford, Charles King, Lorraine Miller, and George Lewis

Corrigan plays the lead as well as Kongo, the white gorilla, in the low-budget independent production The White Gorilla. Also pictured are Francis Ford, Charles King, Lorraine Miller, and George Lewis

later years

Using his earnings at Republic, in 1937 Corrigan purchased a large, inexpensive parcel of land in the California Simi Valley, which he turned into "Corriganville," a movie ranch where many films and television westerns were shot in the 1940s and 1950s, including the Range Buster films. This small investment proved very lucrative; upon Corrigan's exit from Monogram in 1943, he was able to afford semi-retirement, working only on occasion in films while leasing the movie ranch to other production companies. In his later film appearances, Corrigan most often donned a gorilla suit, which he had specially made, from the 1940s through the late 1950s, including Nabonga (1944; with Buster Crabbe and Julie London), Zamba (1949; with Jon Hall and June Vincent), and Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952; with Bela Lugosi), among others. His last film appearance came as the title creature in the campy science fiction thriller It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958; with Marshall Thompson). Nearly 60 years old, Corrigan retired from the screen. He sold his movie ranch to Bob Hope in the mid 1960s for more than 200 times its original purchase price, making him a very wealthy man. Ray Corrigan passed away on August 10, 1976, following a heart attack at the age of 74. He was survived by a son and two daughters.

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filmography

FILM
It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) with Marshall Thompson, Shirley Patterson, Ann Doran, and Dabbs Greer
The Domino Kid (1957) with Rory Calhoun, Andrew Duggan, and Yvette Duguay
Zombies of Mora Tau (1957) with Allison Hayes, Gregg Palmer, Autumn Russell, Joel Ashley, Morris Ankrum, and Marjorie Eaton
Apache Ambush (1955) with Bill Williams, Richard Jaeckel, Alex Montoya, Movita, and Tex Ritter
The Great Adventures of Captain Kidd (1953) with Richard Crane, David Bruce, and John Crawford
Killer Ape (1953) with Johnny Weissmuller, Carol Thurston, and Nestor Paiva
Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952) with Bela Lugosi, Duke Mitchell, and Sammy Petrillo
Trail of Robin Hood (1950) with Roy Rogers, Penny Edwards, Gordon Jones, Rex Allen, Allan 'Rocky' Lane, Monte Hale, Tom Tyler, Kermit Maynard, Tom Keene, and Jack Holt
The Adventures of Sir Galahad (1949) with George Reeves, Charles King, William Fawcett, and Lois Hall
Zamba (1949) with Jon Hall, June Vincent, Beau Bridges, and George O'Hanlon
Unknown Island (1948) with Virginia Grey, Philip Reed, Richard Denning, and Barton MacLane
Renegade Girl (1946) with Ann Savage, Alan Curtis, Edward Brophy, Russell Wade, and Jack Holt
The White Gorilla (1946) with Lorraine Miller, George Lewis, Francis Ford, Budd Buster, and Charles King
White Pongo (1945) with Richard Fraser and Maris Wrixon
The Monster and the Ape (1945) with Robert Lowery, George Macready, Ralph Morgan, Carole Mathews, Willie Best, and Bud Osborne
Nabonga (1944) with Buster Crabbe, Barton MacLane, Fifi D'Orsay, Julie London, and Herbert Rawlinson
Captive Wild Woman (1943) with John Carradine, Milburn Stone, Evelyn Ankers, Lloyd Corrigan, Acquanetta, and Martha Vickers
She's for Me (1943) with Grace McDonald, David Bruce, Lois Collier, George Dolenz, Mantan Moreland, Frank Faylen, and Carol Hughes
Bullets and Saddles (1943) with Denny Moore, Max Terhune, Budd Buster, and Glenn Strange
Black Market Rustlers (1943) with Denny Moore, Max Terhune, and Glenn Strange
Cowboy Commandos (1943) with Denny Moore, Max Terhune, Budd Buster, and Bud Osborne
Land of Hunted Men (1943) with Denny Moore, Max Terhune, and Charles King
Rock River Renegades (1942) with John 'Dusty' King, Max Terhune, Christine McIntyre, and Kermit Maynard
Thunder River Feud (1942) with John 'Dusty' King, Max Terhune, Carleton Young, and Budd Buster
The Strange Case of Doctor Rx (1942) with Patric Knowles, Lionel Atwill, Anne Gwynne, Shemp Howard, Paul Cavanagh, and Mantan Moreland
Dr. Renault's Secret (1942) with J. Carrol Naish, Lynne Roberts, and George Zucco
Arizona Stagecoach (1942) with John 'Dusty' King, Max Terhune, Charles King, Kermit Maynard, and Slim Whitaker
Boot Hill Bandits (1942) with John 'Dusty' King, Max Terhune, Glenn Strange, and Budd Buster
Texas Trouble Shooters (1942) with John 'Dusty' King, Max Terhune, Glenn Strange, and Kermit Maynard
Tumbledown Ranch in Arizona (1941) with John 'Dusty' King and Max Terhune
Underground Rustlers (1941) with John 'Dusty' King, Max Terhune, and Bud Osborne
Tonto Basin Outlaws (1941) with John 'Dusty' King, Max Terhune, Tristram Coffin, Rex Lease, and Budd Buster
Saddle Mountain Roundup (1941) with John 'Dusty' King, Max Terhune, Jack Mulhall, and Willie Fung
Fugitive Valley (1941) with John 'Dusty' King, Max Terhune, and Glenn Strange
Wrangler's Roost (1941) with John 'Dusty' King and Max Terhune
The Kid's Last Ride (1941) with John 'Dusty' King, Max Terhune, and Glenn Strange
Trail of the Silver Spurs (1941) with John 'Dusty' King, Max Terhune, and Dorothy Short
The Range Busters (1940) with John 'Dusty' King, Max Terhune, Frank LaRue, and Kermit Maynard
Trailing Double Trouble (1940) with John 'Dusty' King, Max Terhune, and Kenne Duncan
West of Pinto Basin (1940) with John 'Dusty' King, Max Terhune, Tristram Coffin, Bud Osborne, and Budd Buster
New Frontier (1939) with John Wayne, Raymond Hatton, Jennifer Jones, Dave O'Brien, and Bud Osborne
Wyoming Outlaw (1939) with John Wayne, Raymond Hatton, Don 'Red' Barry, Charles Middleton, Elmo Lincoln, and Yakima Canutt
Three Texas Steers (1939) with John Wayne, Max Terhune, and Carole Landis
The Night Riders (1939) with John Wayne, Max Terhune, Tom Tyler, and Kermit Maynard
Red River Range (1938) with John Wayne, Max Terhune, Polly Moran, Lorna Gray, and Kirby Grant
Santa Fe Stampede (1938) with John Wayne and Max Terhune
Overland Stage Raiders (1938) with John Wayne, Max Terhune, Louise Brooks, John Archer, Arch Hall Sr., and Frank LaRue
Pals of the Saddle (1938) with John Wayne and Max Terhune
Heroes of the Hills (1938) with Robert Livingston, Max Terhune, Priscilla Lawson, and Carleton Young
Riders of the Black Hills (1938) with Robert Livingston and Max Terhune
Outlaws of Sonora (1938) with Robert Livingston, Max Terhune, Jack Mulhall, and Frank LaRue
Call the Mesquiteers (1938) with Robert Livingston, Max Terhune, and Lynne Roberts
Purple Vigilantes (1938) with Robert Livingston, Max Terhune, and Joan Barclay
Join the Marines (1937) with Paul Kelly, June Travis, Reginald Denny, Sterling Holloway, Carleton Young, and William Hopper
Wild Horse Rodeo (1937) with Robert Livingston, Max Terhune, and Roy Rogers
The Trigger Trio (1937) with Max Terhune, Ralph Byrd, and Willie Fung
Heart of the Rockies (1937) with Robert Livingston, Max Terhune, Lynne Roberts, J.P. McGowan, Yakima Canutt, and Guy Wilkerson
Range Defenders (1937) with Robert Livingston, Max Terhune, and Yakima Canutt
The Painted Stallion (1937) with Hoot Gibson, Duncan Renaldo, and Yakima Canutt
Come On, Cowboys! (1937) with Robert Livingston, Max Terhune, Maxine Doyle, Willie Fung, and Yakima Canutt
Gunsmoke Ranch (1937) with Robert Livingston, Max Terhune, Kenneth Harlan, Yakima Canutt, and Robert Walker
Hit the Saddle (1937) with Robert Livingston, Max Terhune, Rita Hayworth, J.P. McGowan, and Yakima Canutt
The Riders of the Whistling Skull (1937) with Robert Livingston, Max Terhune, C. Montague Shaw, and Yakima Canutt
Darkest Africa (1936) with Clyde Beatty
The Leathernecks Have Landed (1936) with Lew Ayres, Isabel Jewell, James Ellison, J. Carrol Naish, and Ward Bond
Undersea Kingdom (1936) with Lois Wilde, Monte Blue, Raymond Hatton, C. Montague Shaw, Smiley Burnette, and Lon Chaney Jr.
Roarin' Lead (1936) with Robert Livingston, Max Terhune, and Yakima Canutt
Country Gentlemen (1936) with Ole Olsen, Chic Johnson, Joyce Compton, and Lila Lee
Ghost-Town Gold (1936) with Robert Livingston, Max Terhune, and Yakima Canutt
The Vigilantes Are Coming (1936) with Robert Livingston, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams, Raymond Hatton, and Yakima Canutt
The Three Mesquiteers (1936) with Robert Livingston, Syd Saylor, J.P. McGowan, and Milburn Stone
Dante's Inferno (1935) with Spencer Tracy, Claire Trevor, Scotty Beckett, and Rita Hayworth
Night Life of the Gods (1935) with Alan Mowbray
Tomorrow's Youth (1935) with John Miljan, Martha Sleeper, Gloria Shea, Dickie Moore, Franklin Pangborn, Barbara Bedford, and Jane Darwell
Murder in the Private Car (1934) with Charlie Ruggles and Una Merkel
Tarzan and His Mate (1934) with Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan, Neil Hamilton, and Paul Cavanagh

TELEVISION SERIES
Crash Corrigan's Ranch, 1950 ABC TV series. Corrigan served as host of this short-lived, prime-time children's series

crash corrigan links

Ray 'Crash' Corrigan at B-Westerns.com
This site is the last word on Crash Corrigan's westerns, complete with many photos and lots of information.

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Watch Ray Corrigan's 1936 western Ghost Town Gold
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This page premiered February 24, 2006.
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