biography

Born James Meador in Nashville, Tennessee, on February 4, 1912, handsome second-string leading man James Craig enjoyed a lengthy career in films, spanning the 1930s through the 1950s. When he was a child, Craig's family moved to Texas, where he grew up and went to college. He had just turned 25 when he was put under contract with Paramount in early 1937, and after a few small roles in films, Craig jumped ship to Columbia. He fared better at the new studio, where he earned a starring role in the backlot drama North of Shanghai (1939; with Betty Furness and Morgan Conway) and appeared in several comedy short subjects, such as Trouble Finds Andy Clyde (1939; with Andy Clyde) and the Three Stooges vehicle Oily to Bed, Oily to Rise (1939). Tiring of the low budgets at Columbia, Craig left for RKO's greener pastures in 1940. His fortunes improved when he was cast in meaty roles in Kitty Foyle (1940; with Ginger Rogers and Dennis Morgan) and The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941; with Walter Huston and Simone Simon), probably the best films of his career.
James CraigJames Craig

LEFT: Late 1930s promotional photo from Paramount. RIGHT: A beefcake shot of James Craig in this early 1940s RKO photo

Craig hopped over to MGM with the onset of World War II. With many leading men going into the service, Craig's career flourished in comedies and dramas, such as The Heavenly Body (1944; with William Powell and Hedy Lamarr), Kismet (1944; with Ronald Colman and Marlene Dietrich), and Dangerous Partners (1945; with Signe Hasso). But after the war, Craig's star began to fade. He then moved to westerns, some of them low-budget affairs such as Last of the Desperados (1955; with Jim Davis), Massacre (1956; with Dane Clark), and Man or Gun (1958; with Macdonald Carey and Audrey Totter).

the films of james craig

The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)

Simone Simon and James Craig

With Simone Simon in RKO's fantasy The Devil and Daniel Webster

Valley of the Sun (1942)

James Craig and Lucille Ball

Craig stars with Lucille Ball in RKO's comedy western Valley of the Sun

Lost Angel (1943)

James Craig and Margaret O'Brien

From MGM's heartwarming drama Lost Angel with Margaret O'Brien

The Human Comedy (1943)

James Craig

Promotional photo from the MGM drama The Human Comedy

Swing Shift Maisie (1943)

Ann Sothern and James Craig

From MGM's wartime comedy Swing Shift Maisie with Ann Sothern

Gentle Annie (1944)

James Craig, Donna Reed, Harry Morgan, Marjorie Main, and Paul LangtonMarjorie Main, James Craig, and Donna Reed

Craig plays the hero in MGM's western Gentle Annie. LEFT: With Donna Reed, Harry Morgan, Marjorie Main, and Paul Langton. RIGHT: With Marjorie Main and Donna Reed

She Went to the Races (1945)

James Craig and Frances Gifford

From MGM's comedy She Went to the Races with Frances Gifford

Little Mister Jim (1946)

Frances Gifford and James Craig

With Frances Gifford in the MGM tearjerker Little Mister Jim

The Man from Texas (1948)

James Craig and Lynn Bari

With Lynn Bari in the Eagle-Lion western The Man from Texas

Drums in the Deep South (1951)

Guy Madison, Barbara Payton, and James CraigJames Craig and Barbara Payton

From RKO's western release Drums in the Deep South. LEFT: With Guy Madison and Barbara Payton. RIGHT: With scandal queen Barbara Payton

The Strip (1951)

James Craig and Sally Forrest

With Sally Forrest in MGM's noir release The Strip

Fort Vengeance (1953)

James Craig

From the Allied Artists western Fort Vengeance

The Cyclops (1957)

James Craig and Gloria TalbottJames Craig and Lon Chaney Jr.

From Bert I. Gordon's horror flick The Cyclops, released by Allied Artists. LEFT: With pretty scream queen Gloria Talbott. RIGHT: With Lon Chaney Jr.

Four Fast Guns (1960)

James Craig

From Universal-International's western Four Fast Guns

later years

When his film career began to fizzle in the late 1950s, Craig turned to selling real estate and made a fortune. Thereafter, he appeared in movies only sporadically. Aside from a few late 1960s westerns, the nadir of his career proved to be the campy bargain-basement productions Doomsday Machine (filmed in 1967 but released in 1972; with Denny Miller, Grant Williams, and Ruta Lee), Bigfoot (1970; with John Carradine and Joi Lansing), and The Tormentors (1971; with Anthony Eisley and Chris Noel). Following the latter title, Craig gave up show business for good. Sadly, after a bout with cancer he passed away on June 28, 1985, at age 73. He was survived by two sons and a daughter.

Wed four times to three wives, his first wife, Mary, divorced him in 1958 after 19 years of marriage and three children. Craig then was briefly married to actress Jil Jarmyn from 1959 to 1962, and then he remarried his first wife, but this union again ended in divorce. In 1969, he married again but was divorced in 1980.

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filmography

FILM
The Tormentors (1971) with Anthony Eisley, Bruce Kimball, and Chris Noel
The Revenge of Dr. X (1970) with James Yagi; screenplay written by Ed Wood
Bigfoot (1970) with John Carradine, John Mitchum, Joi Lansing, Christopher Mitchum, Lindsay Crosby, and Joy Wilkerson
If He Hollers, Let Him Go! (1968) with Dana Wynter, Raymond St. Jacques, Kevin McCarthy, Barbara McNair, Arthur O'Connell, and John Russell
The Devil's Brigade (1968) with William Holden, Cliff Robertson, Vince Edwards, Andrew Prine, Jeremy Slate, Dana Andrews, and Claude Akins
Arizona Bushwhackers (1968) with Howard Keel, Yvonne De Carlo, John Ireland, Marilyn Maxwell, Scott Brady, Brian Donlevy, and Barton MacLane
The Doomsday Machine (1967) with Grant Williams, Henry Wilcoxon, Mala Powers, Ruta Lee, Denny Miller, Bobby Van, and Mike Farrell
Fort Utah (1967) with John Ireland, Virginia Mayo, Scott Brady, John Russell, Richard Arlen, Jim Davis, and Don "Red" Barry
Hostile Guns (1967) with George Montgomery, Yvonne De Carlo, Tab Hunter, Brian Donlevy, John Russell, Leo Gordon, Richard Arlen, and Don "Red" Barry
Four Fast Guns (1960) with Martha Vickers, Edgar Buchanan, and Brett Halsey
Man or Gun (1958) with Macdonald Carey, Audrey Totter, James Gleason, Warren Stevens, and Jil Jarmyn
Ghost Diver (1957) with Audrey Totter
Naked in the Sun (1957) with Lita Milan and Barton MacLane
The Cyclops (1957) with Gloria Talbott and Lon Chaney Jr.
The Persuader (1957) with William Talman, Darryl Hickman, Alvy Moore, and Gregory Walcott
Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend (1957) with Randolph Scott, Angie Dickinson, James Garner, and Myron Healey
The Women of Pitcairn Island (1956) with Lynn Bari, John Smith, and Arleen Whelan
Massacre (1956) with Dane Clark
While the City Sleeps (1956) with Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, George Sanders, Howard Duff, Vincent Price, Sally Forrest, John Drew Barrymore, and Ida Lupino
Last of the Desperados (1955) with Jim Davis, Barton MacLane, Myrna Dell, and Bob Steele
Code Two (1953) with Ralph Meeker, Elaine Stewart, Sally Forrest, Keenan Wynn, Robert Horton, Jeff Richards, and William Campbell
Fort Vengeance (1953) with Rita Moreno, Keith Larsen, Reginald Denny, and Morris Ankrum
Hurricane Smith (1952) with Yvonne De Carlo, John Ireland, Forrest Tucker, Lyle Bettger, and Richard Arlen
Drums in the Deep South (1951) with Barbara Payton, Guy Madison, and Barton MacLane
The Strip (1951) with Mickey Rooney, Sally Forrest, William Demarest, Louis Armstrong, Tommy Rettig, Tommy Farrell, and Myrna Dell
A Lady Without Passport (1950) with Hedy Lamarr, John Hodiak, and George Macready
Side Street (1950) with Farley Granger, Cathy O'Donnell, Paul Kelly, Jean Hagen, Charles McGraw, Adele Jergens, and Whit Bissell
Northwest Stampede (1948) with Joan Leslie, Jack Oakie, and Chill Wills
The Man from Texas (1948) with Lynn Bari, Una Merkel, King Donovan, and Reed Hadley
Dark Delusion (1947) with Lionel Barrymore and Jayne Meadows
Boys' Ranch (1946) with Dorothy Patrick, Ray Collins, and Darryl Hickman
Little Mister Jim (1946) with Frances Gifford, Luana Patten, Spring Byington, Laura La Plante, and Morris Ankrum
She Went to the Races (1945) with Frances Gifford, Ava Gardner, and Edmund Gwenn
Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945) with Edward G. Robinson, Margaret O'Brien, Frances Gifford, and Agnes Moorehead
Dangerous Partners (1945) with Signe Hasso, Edmund Gwenn, and Audrey Totter
Gentle Annie (1944) with Donna Reed, Marjorie Main, Harry Morgan, Barton MacLane, Morris Ankrum, and Noah Beery
Marriage Is a Private Affair (1944) with Lana Turner, John Hodiak, Frances Gifford, Hugh Marlowe, Natalie Schaferm, Keenan Wynn, and Morris Ankrum
Kismet (1944) with Ronald Colman, Marlene Dietrich, and Hugh Herbert
The Human Comedy (1943) with Mickey Rooney, Frank Morgan, Fay Bainter, Ray Collins, Van Johnson, and Donna Reed
The Heavenly Body (1943) with William Powell, Hedy Lamarr, Fay Bainter, Spring Byington, and Morris Ankrum
Lost Angel (1943) with Margaret O'Brien, Marsha Hunt, Philip Merivale, Keenan Wynn, and Alan Napier
Swing Shift Maisie (1943) with Ann Sothern and Jean Rogers
Seven Miles from Alcatraz (1942) with Bonita Granville
Northwest Rangers (1942) with William Lundigan, John Carradine, Jack Holt, Keenan Wynn, Grant Withers, and Darryl Hickman
The Omaha Trail (1942) with Pamela Blake, Dean Jagger, Chill Wills, Harry Morgan, and Morris Ankrum
Friendly Enemies (1942) with Charlie Ruggles, Nancy Kelly, and Otto Kruger
Valley of the Sun (1942) with Lucille Ball, Cedric Hardwicke, Dean Jagger, Billy Gilbert, Tom Tyler, and Antonio Moreno
Unexpected Uncle (1941) with Anne Shirley and Charles Coburn
The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) with Edward Arnold, Walter Huston, Jane Darwell, Simone Simon, Gene Lockhart, H.B. Warner, and Anne Shirley
Kitty Foyle (1940) with Ginger Rogers and Dennis Morgan
Law and Order (1940) with Johnny Mack Brown, Fuzzy Knight, and Jimmie Dodd
I'm Nobody's Sweetheart Now (1940) with Dennis O'Keefe, Constance Moore, Helen Parrish, Laura Hope Crews, Margaret Hamilton, and Tim Ryan
Seven Sinners (1940) with Marlene Dietrich, John Wayne, Albert Dekker, Broderick Crawford, Anna Lee, Mischa Auer, Billy Gilbert, and Herbert Rawlinson
South to Karanga (1940) with Charles Bickford
Winners of the West (1940) with Dick Foran and Anne Nagel; a thirteen-chapter serial
Zanzibar (1940) with Lola Lane
Cafe Hostess (1940) with Preston Foster, Ann Dvorak, Wynne Gibson, Bruce Bennett, and Dorothy Comingore
Scandal Sheet (1940) with Otto Kruger and Ona Munson
The Taming of the West (1939) with Bill Elliott, Iris Meredith, Dick Curtis, and Dub Taylor
Overland with Kit Carson (1939) with Bill Elliott, Iris Meredith, and Dick Curtis
The Man They Could Not Hang (1939) with Boris Karloff, Lorna Gray, Roger Pryor, Don Beddoe, Ann Doran, Byron Foulger, and Dick Curtis
Flying G-Men (1939) with Robert Paige
North of Shanghai (1939) with Betty Furness, Keye Luke, and Morgan Conway
Pride of the West (1938) with William Boyd, Gabby Hayes, Russell Hayden, and Glenn Strange
The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938) with W.C. Fields, Martha Raye, Dorothy Lamour, Bob Hope, Ben Blue, and Leif Erickson
Born to the West (1937) with John Wayne, Marsha Hunt, Johnny Mack Brown, and Monte Blue
Thunder Trail (1937) with Gilbert Roland, Charles Bickford, Marsha Hunt, J. Carrol Naish, and Monte Blue

TELEVISION GUEST APPEARANCES
The ABC Afternoon Playbreak, episode This Child Is Mine, originally aired December 7, 1972
The Virginian, episode Dark Corridor, originally aired November 27, 1968
Custer, episode War Lance and Saber, originally aired October 11, 1967
Daniel Boone, episode The Renegade, originally aired September 28, 1967
Tales of Wells Fargo, episode Vignette of a Sinner, originally aired June 2, 1962
Death Valley Days, episode The Man Everyone Hated, originally aired April 1, 1960
Have Gun - Will Travel, episode Birds of a Feather, originally aired March 8, 1958
Broken Arrow, episode Johnny Flagstaff, originally aired March 19, 1957
The Millionaire, episode The Jane Carr Story, originally aired September 19, 1956
Science Fiction Theatre, episode Dead Reckoning, originally aired September 23, 1955
Studio 57, episode The Westerner, originally aired February 1, 1955
Studio 57, episode Cubs of the Bear, originally aired November 23, 1954
The Ford Television Theatre, episode Wedding March, originally aired April 22, 1954

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Watch James Craig's 1970 horror flick The Revenge of Dr. X
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This page premiered May 20, 2005.
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