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Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

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Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby moira finnie » October 5th, 2013, 3:35 pm

Hey, Martha--thanks for that insight into Gable (and ex-husbands!).

Here's a picture of Martha doubling for Eleanor Parker in Interrupted Melody. I saw this movie for the first time recently without knowing that Martha was the stunt woman. This scene was the best part of the movie for me!
Image

I realize that you were primarily a stunt double involved with horses.
Could you please talk about how animals were trained for stunt work and how they were treated in films when you were working in this field?

Did you work with a particular horse whose temperament and skill set were exceptional?
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Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby JackFavell » October 5th, 2013, 3:41 pm

Hi, Martha! Did you have a favorite horse for your stunts, aside from Ski? Did you do all the different types of horse stunts? Did you have any favorite stuntmen or women that you worked with?

Can you tell me about Jack Holt or any of the Holt family?

Were there any supporting players that you got along with especially well? Anyone you thought was particularly wonderful?

I love the stories about Bill Wellman and Gable. Any other tidbits about them?

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Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby JackFavell » October 5th, 2013, 3:42 pm

Oops, I see Moira beat me to the punch with that first question. :D

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Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby Jezebel38 » October 5th, 2013, 3:42 pm

rerun wrote:I think my very favorite thing I did was the fire scene in Interrupted Melody. Although a fake fire, it was hugely real looking and the most expensive indoor scene ever at that time. So, it was a wonderful interaction with the horse I used. We rehearsed it for three weeks. His name was Ski and what a real pro he was. I learned from working with him that horses can take a cue from music which I had never given thought to before. It was my favorite and I have read that the film itself was Eleanor Parker's favorite film.


Martha - thanks for visiting us here on SSO!

As I am an Opera buff as well as a Classic film buff I've seen INTERRUPTED MELODY several times, and I've always been so impressed with this scene! 3 weeks of rehearsal? Wow! I am not an accomplished rider, but just to see you break into a canter from a standstill, rear up and then into the flames, and this is done bareback is most impressive.
This is not a great quality Youtube clip, but here is the scene:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBW7OI4jSzg[/youtube]

Did you get to know Glenn Ford at all while making this film?

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Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » October 5th, 2013, 3:50 pm

Thank you so much for your visit here! I am enjoying all of your responses.

Martha, I also had some more questions, and hope you don't mind.
I've always been interested in the difference between the Western saddle and the English saddle. Which one do you prefer? Is it harder to do a stunt with an English saddle or a Western saddle? How do they compare as far as injuries might be considered?

I would love to know about your favorite saddle. Who made it? Does it have any special features that might have been customized for you?

Thank you again. :-)
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Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby moira finnie » October 5th, 2013, 5:01 pm

Hey, Martha, before I forget to ask: please tell us a bit about your "non-stunt" appearances on film, could you?

I think I spotted you in one of crowd scenes in The Unsuspected (1947), directed by Michael Curtiz as a dancing lady in the background around 3:12 in this clip. Do you know where I should look for you in this movie?

Also, was your participation in this movie after your 20th Century Fox screen test? Could you please talk about how you came to have that screen test, your feelings about it, and the young lady who also tested that day?

Any comments you may have about working with Curtiz in this film and his ongoing interest in horses and friendship with your father? Did you meet Claude Rains while appearing in The Unsuspected?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EawLJUxLk4U[/youtube]


Could you please explain why in heck you never worked on any of directors Budd Boetticher's great Westerns--but you did appear (briefly and impressively) in The Killer Is Loose (1956) as Wendell Corey's wife, Doris. Martha's memorable on-screen moments in this movie begin about 10:50 in this movie. How cool that you played a character whose shadow stretched across the whole movie!:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YhGzH-KMiM[/youtube]

thanks again!!
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Welcome Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby TikiSoo » October 6th, 2013, 6:55 am

Hi Martha!
My horse loves learning "tricks" and people are amazed at what she will do for a piece of candy. I had read the classic stuntman's book about his "falling" horse Cocaine, but just can't believe that. Do you know how to convince a horse to fall while in motion with a rider on command?
Would you ever take a fall like that?

I love watching stars riding horses in film-it's so obvious who knows what they're doing vs those who ride with "chicken wings" flapping. Who was the most timid actor you ever came across in regard to horses and who was the most "natural"?

It's disturbing to see actors jerk the reins and the horse raises his head to avoid the long curb bits often used in westerns. How did you handle seeing your well trained horses react to heavy handling and heavy riding?

Please tell me you're still in the saddle....
Thanks!

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Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby pvitari » October 6th, 2013, 9:44 am

Dear Martha,

Thanks for your answer on Ben Johnson. I was really glad you mentioned Ben's wife Carol and his father-in-law Fat Jones as they are not celebrities and it's hard to find information on them. I'd love to hear more from you especially about Fat Jones -- that is, what he was like as a person. While I've been able to dig up details about the location of his business, the films he provided stock for and the years he was in business, I've found nothing about him as a person and I'd love anything you can tell us about him.

Changing the subject, I loved what you wrote about Linda Darnell in your book -- thank you so much for that! She is one of the loveliest actresses and I think very underrated. It's amazing what she accomplished as a 15 and 16-year-old in Hollywood.

One of my favorite directors is Frank Borzage. If you could expand on how you met him, what he was like, I'd love to hear about that too. I've read he was as much a romantic in real life as one might gather from his films which celebrate love, but that his relationship with his wife fell short of that ideal, although he found something closer to it late in life. And also if you knew or met Charles Farrell, Borzage's alter ego in silent films, who co-founded the Palm Springs Racquet Club where all the stars hung out. Was Farrell into polo? I know he loved tennis, swimming and sailing.

One last question, just wondering if you knew horse trainer Don Burt, who died in 2012. I read his book Horses & Other Heroes: Recollections and Reflections of a Life with Horses and enjoyed it very much. He also knew many of the actors and actresses who worked on westerns or in their personal lives owned ranches and enjoyed breeding, raising and training horses, including Robert Taylor, with whom he had a business partnership.

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Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby rerun » October 6th, 2013, 12:34 pm

moirafinnie wrote:Hey, Martha--thanks for that insight into Gable (and ex-husbands!).

Here's a picture of Martha doubling for Eleanor Parker in Interrupted Melody. I saw this movie for the first time recently without knowing that Martha was the stunt woman. This scene was the best part of the movie for me!
Image

I realize that you were primarily a stunt double involved with horses.
Could you please talk about how animals were trained for stunt work and how they were treated in films when you were working in this field?

Did you work with a particular horse whose temperament and skill set were exceptional?


Oh my - just found page two!
I am not entirely sure as to who trained what horses. I do know that the individual stock contractors had trainers they worked like ie Les Hilton who trained the Flicka horse worked with Fat Jones. Many times a specialty horse was acquired on the out side or perhaps borrowed from another stable. Ski, the horse who I worked with on Interrupted Melody was the consummate professional. However, rearing horses can be tricky in that when you rear them a lot that is all they want to do. In this film I was just a passenger. Ski, did all the work and most of the thinking I am sure. What a pleasure it was to work with him. I also reared him from a buggy in the Sheepman for Shirley MacLaine. He had several cues he responded to like the champ he was. When I came along the humane society's had a pretty tight hold on films. Gone were the days of trip wires, thank goodness, and new laws were put in. If a horse or an animal was hurt in a scene they could not use that scene. So that helped control the 'out of control' directors who would do anything for a good shot. Most of the specialty horses ie the falling horses, jumping horses, etc were owned by the individual stunt people. Midnight was extraordinary. He had been a cast horse for many stars and he always made them look better than they were. Then they made him into a horse to do stunts, etc. He could be a leader on a runaway stage coach and then use him for a star to ride. Never, have I ever seen a horse that could do that. I used him one day when I was the 'first-lady-wrangler' at Disney on the Apple Dumpling Gang. I was to be the pick up man for a run a way. I was a bit nervous as I had never done that before and was sitting on him off camera of course. All of a sudden here came the run a way horse and my heart almost stopped worrying that I would not have the timing right. A-ha said Midnight I will do it and just at the right time Midnight jumped into the side of the run a way horse and I pulled him up. Oh my goodness. What a horse. He made me and many others look like a genius. This horse made a fortune for Randall Ranch who owned him. I tried to buy him but they wanted $40,000 for him. Then one day the called me and said they were going to send him to the killers and did I still want him as he was too sore to work any more. I said I will be there in one hour and he had better be there. I gave them their (*&^%]in $400 killer price for him and took him home. He was retired at my place and no one ever sat on him again. Whew! Memories!
Avatar: John Cantarini (Martha's husband) on future world record holder Crazy Kid. He won six in a row
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Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby rerun » October 6th, 2013, 12:50 pm

JackFavell wrote:Hi, Martha! Did you have a favorite horse for your stunts, aside from Ski? Did you do all the different types of horse stunts? Did you have any favorite stuntmen or women that you worked with?

Can you tell me about Jack Holt or any of the Holt family?

Were there any supporting players that you got along with especially well? Anyone you thought was particularly wonderful?

I love the stories about Bill Wellman and Gable. Any other tidbits about them?


I did not do horse falls. Most of the time when a fall from a horse came up 'someone' always said, "girls don't do falls". That confused me as I knew some of them did. I finally realized the ones that did were 'in' and the stuntmen got my jobs as I believed what they said. Grrrrr . . . I did a few falls from a standing horse. I did a lot of jumping horse calls and seemed to have the corner on those. And, I got the job on Interrupted Melody as I could do a two second bareback mount from a standing horse. The trick riders that all tried out for the job could not do it as they were all using a running horse to do their fancy mounts. So, I got a lot of calls for fast mounts.

You could not ask for a classier family than that of Jack Holt. I believe Moira has put up a picture of me getting a trophy from Jack Holt when I was a child riding one of Walter Wanger's polo ponies. Jack was a very fine horseman and he refereed (sp) the polo games at the club where my father played. Tim was a living doll. There was no ego of any kind in either of them. Tim was a very good polo player and they both were very educated.

I really did not get to work 'with' the stars. Most of my work was done on what they call 'a second unit'. The few I knew well were Richard Widmark and his fantastic family, Robert Taylor and Gregory Peck. I taught Richard's lovely daughter Anne to ride and kept Robert Taylor's horses at my place. Gregory Peck lived just up the canyon from the polo club and he and my father became good friends too. My father would always give him a horse and ride with him when he was getting ready for a film. But you see . . . these were perhaps the cream of the crop in my life to me ie the 'wonderfuls'. And, of course I adored Fess Parker. So many in that era were great at what they did and had no ego. The lesser ones are the ones who seemed impressed with themselves and had the egos.
Avatar: John Cantarini (Martha's husband) on future world record holder Crazy Kid. He won six in a row
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Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby rerun » October 6th, 2013, 1:16 pm

pvitari wrote:Dear Martha,

Thanks for your answer on Ben Johnson. I was really glad you mentioned Ben's wife Carol and his father-in-law Fat Jones as they are not celebrities and it's hard to find information on them. I'd love to hear more from you especially about Fat Jones -- that is, what he was like as a person. While I've been able to dig up details about the location of his business, the films he provided stock for and the years he was in business, I've found nothing about him as a person and I'd love anything you can tell us about him.

Changing the subject, I loved what you wrote about Linda Darnell in your book -- thank you so much for that! She is one of the loveliest actresses and I think very underrated. It's amazing what she accomplished as a 15 and 16-year-old in Hollywood.

One of my favorite directors is Frank Borzage. If you could expand on how you met him, what he was like, I'd love to hear about that too. I've read he was as much a romantic in real life as one might gather from his films which celebrate love, but that his relationship with his wife fell short of that ideal, although he found something closer to it late in life. And also if you knew or met Charles Farrell, Borzage's alter ego in silent films, who co-founded the Palm Springs Racquet Club where all the stars hung out. Was Farrell into polo? I know he loved tennis, swimming and sailing.

One last question, just wondering if you knew horse trainer Don Burt, who died in 2012. I read his book Horses & Other Heroes: Recollections and Reflections of a Life with Horses and enjoyed it very much. He also knew many of the actors and actresses who worked on westerns or in their personal lives owned ranches and enjoyed breeding, raising and training horses, including Robert Taylor, with whom he had a business partnership.


Of course I didn't know Fat well. He was a huge man and very kind and jovial. He knew every horse he had and knew the movie business backwards and forewords. He was a giant in his field. He was a big booster of mine and that always worked out well for me as so often the wranglers that worked with him and 20th and Metro all had great respect for his opinions. Many times the wranglers word was the final word in a casting event.

Frank Borzage played polo on a regular basis at the club where my father played and later managed. I remember him as always smiling, always gentle and a lovely, lovely person. There are two pictures of him in my book. I one of the pictures he and his then wife Rena, Charlie Farrell, and Walt Disney and Mrs. Disney are all standing at the bar in the club house surrounding my mother. My father later was asked to manage the polo in Palm Springs and yes, they spent many good times at the Racquet Club . . . I was too young. Phooey! The all followed the small Southern California polo circuit and I and we were right in the middle of it. I had a wonderful childhood that has been hard to duplicate in my 'grown-up' years.

Well - well - well. I am sort of at a loss for words re the Don Burt thing. I was married to Don before he got famous as a judge. He is the one who sold my Clark Gable cart! I can tell you this. The book you so enjoyed was mostly fiction. Don used my celebrity stories to promote his career. Those are my stories in that book. He even uses my personal vernacular. He also claims Frosty was his horse. Frosty was a fully trained horse when I met Don. I have threatened Tony Lyons his publisher and the American Quarter Horse Assn . with full plagerism law suits if they ever publish one more word about Don Burt and his horse Frosty. I have the full story I lived it . He was my horse. Don did not know Robert Taylor. He met him one time when I introduced them. One time. The stories he tells are pure fiction. Sorry to be so rough. I can tell you a lot more if you want to email me. Send me a personal message and I will give you my email. Sorry to destroy the image you so enjoyed.
Avatar: John Cantarini (Martha's husband) on future world record holder Crazy Kid. He won six in a row
on him.

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Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby rerun » October 6th, 2013, 1:57 pm

moirafinnie wrote:Hey, Martha, before I forget to ask: please tell us a bit about your "non-stunt" appearances on film, could you?

I think I spotted you in one of crowd scenes in The Unsuspected (1947), directed by Michael Curtiz as a dancing lady in the background around 3:12 in this clip. Do you know where I should look for you in this movie?

Also, was your participation in this movie after your 20th Century Fox screen test? Could you please talk about how you came to have that screen test, your feelings about it, and the young lady who also tested that day?

Any comments you may have about working with Curtiz in this film and his ongoing interest in horses and friendship with your father? Did you meet Claude Rains while appearing in The Unsuspected?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EawLJUxLk4U[/youtube]


Could you please explain why in heck you never worked on any of directors Budd Boetticher's great Westerns--but you did appear (briefly and impressively) in The Killer Is Loose (1956) as Wendell Corey's wife, Doris. Martha's memorable on-screen moments in this movie begin about 10:50 in this movie. How cool that you played a character whose shadow stretched across the whole movie!:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YhGzH-KMiM[/youtube]

thanks again!!


The way my screen test came about at 20th was that my father was a polo friend of Darryl Zanuck. They cooked up the idea that I should have a screen test. I did not want this. I hated every minute of it and it showed.
I tested the same day as did Marilyn Monroe. Ben Lyons was head of casting at Fox and had to give me the news about the test. He was really on the spot as the big boss had personally requested this test. He ask me if there was anything else he could do for me. I said he could give me my guild cards and let me double Anne Baxter in Yellow Sky, etc. He was thrilled to get off so easy. So I got what I wanted and 'Marilyn' got what she wanted and all worked out fine. Ben could only give me my Screen Extra's Guild card as to get a Screen Actors Guild card you had to have a named part in a picture. You can't get the part with out the card and you can't get the card without the part so it was iffy to say the least. That was where Michael Curtiz came in. He and my father were talking about this dilemma and so he gave me a walk on part in the Unsuspected but the part had a name! If I remember I had on a strapless black velvet dress and it was a party scene. So that was how I got my SAG card and the SEG card. I remember the day MC and my father were talking. He was admiring a horse my father was holding and said, "he has beautiful underpinnings!" He was quite humorous. He told my father to be sure and bet a race horse he had called Burning Dream the next time he ran. My father told everyone he knew about it and forgot to bet himself and the horse won and paid a huge sum. Ha! The film was quite a heavy story so not any chit chat on it. I only worked a few days. If you can see me in that you are a genius. I watched Claude work a bit but did not meet him. He was always a favorite of mine.
I think why I never worked on the BB westerns is that the female parts were probably already established with their doubles. It was casting that called me for Rhonda Fleming's film. I even was on the poster! Wow! I did get a lot of work because I did not look like they THOUGHT a stunt girl should look.
Avatar: John Cantarini (Martha's husband) on future world record holder Crazy Kid. He won six in a row
on him.

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Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby rerun » October 6th, 2013, 2:09 pm

JackFavell wrote:Hi, Martha! Did you have a favorite horse for your stunts, aside from Ski? Did you do all the different types of horse stunts? Did you have any favorite stuntmen or women that you worked with?

Can you tell me about Jack Holt or any of the Holt family?

Were there any supporting players that you got along with especially well? Anyone you thought was particularly wonderful?

I love the stories about Bill Wellman and Gable. Any other tidbits about them?


P.S. I was best friends with Donna Hall. It really was a great group of girls. I really liked and admired Chuck Hayward and Henry Wills. Both were swell guys and very talented.
Avatar: John Cantarini (Martha's husband) on future world record holder Crazy Kid. He won six in a row
on him.

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Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby Professional Tourist » October 6th, 2013, 2:21 pm

Hi rerun :P and thanks for your visit to the SSO this weekend.

My question is a long shot, but here goes. Did you ever work with or meet Agnes Moorehead, and if so, could you share whatever you remember about her? She did make some westerns, such as The True Story of Jesse James (1957) with Robert Wagner and Jeffrey Hunter, so it seems like a possibility. :) Thank you.

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Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby pvitari » October 6th, 2013, 2:36 pm

Dear Martha, I had no idea you were married to Don Burt! So sorry to bring up bad memories. Your eyes must have popped seeing his name. But I am very glad to have the straight story about his book -- don't worry about "destroying" any image I had, I really didn't know much about him except from the book (or so I thought)....I have looked through your book but not read it cover to cover (yet) so that's why I missed out on that. ;(

So on a more positive note thank you for sharing all your wonderful stories -- they are really fascinating, and we fans of horse action really appreciate everything you and all the stuntmen and stuntwomen have done to make our time watching movies so enthralling.


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