The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters.
- Audrey Hepburn

Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Past chats with our guests.

Moderators: Sue Sue Applegate, movieman1957, moira finnie, Lzcutter

User avatar
moira finnie
Administrator
Posts: 8176
Joined: April 9th, 2007, 6:34 pm
Location: Earth
Contact:

Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby moira finnie » September 27th, 2013, 1:32 pm

Here's the spot where we can begin our Q & A with Martha Crawford Cantarini on Saturday, Sept. 28th & Sunday, Sept. 29th:
phpBB [video]


The The Silver Screen Oasis is pleased to announce the visit of guest author Martha Crawford Cantarini to discuss her wonderful book, Fall Girl: My Life as a Western Stunt Double (McFarland 2010) with us on Sat., Oct.5th & Sun. Oct. 6th. The memoir was written by the veteran horse trainer and stunt rider with co-author Chrystopher J. Spicer and was described by several reviewers as:

"Moving...this book has much to offer fans of the Golden Age...valuable...soulful magic...I'm thankful for this book in which she and her co-writer tell her story so beautifully" --Classic Images

"Fascinating...captivating...not to be missed" -Western Clippings

"I knew when I was asked to do The Big Country that I needed a good stunt double. Well, I got her. I got the best...Martha Crawford." --Jean Simmons, Academy Award-nominated actress.


Martha (whose screen name here on the SSO is rerun), has been honored with a Golden Boot Award for her contributions behind the scenes in Hollywood Westerns and has been inducted into the Hollywood Stuntmen's Hall of Fame. Yet that is only part of this remarkable woman’s story.

Image
This film veteran quite literally grew up in Hollywood, riding horses with Spencer Tracy's children, rubbing elbows with Hollywood stars, and learning about what was real and what was tinsel in the movie capital. In her own words, Martha describes herself as having been born "in San Antonio, Texas, moved to Santa Monica, California at the age of 7 and raised by a professional polo playing father. A flop of a screen test at 20th Century Fox resulted in an offer for my first stunt doubling job! [Be sure you ask her who got that coveted contract at the studio!]. That was what I wanted to do all along! Soon I was selected to do the riding for most all of the glamorous stars...I wrote Fall Girl for the horse lovers who know that the horses are their real teachers and indeed the unsung heroes of Western films."

Her name may not be familiar, but--if you were impressed with Anne Baxter's tussling in Yellow Sky (1948) or Eleanor Parker's Wagnerian ride in Interrupted Melody, or Carroll Baker and Jean Simmons' horsemanship in The Big Country (1958), you know this skilled lady's work.

In her book, we learn of the hard work, fun, and sparks that sometimes flew while doing her job, which included working on films with legendary directors such as Michael Curtiz, William Wellman, William Wyler, Anthony Mann, Budd Boetticher, Otto Preminger and more. Not only has Martha formed friendships with everyone from Spencer Tracy to Jean Simmons to Clark Gable to Eleanor Parker, her story also includes an account of a very busy, very grounded private life and her tenderness toward the creatures who have shared her life on and off screen. The respect and love she felt for the famous and not-so-famous people and horses she knew leaps off the pages of her book. Now is our chance to read her observations of a life of dedication and skill as our guest enters the main spotlight for this first weekend in October. Won't you join us for the ride?

Below are a list of links with further information about Martha Crawford Cantarini's life and career:

Martha has written vivid descriptions of her own observations of the equestrian world away from Hollywood. Enjoy!:
http://www.equisearch.com/writers/martha-cantarini-0/

Fall Girl: My Life as a Western Stunt Double [Sources for this book]

SecondRunning.com [Martha's web site]

Martha Crawford IMDb Page

Interview with Stunt Double Martha Crawford Cantarini by John Greco @Twenty Four Frames Blog

All Star Equine - Show Biz Horses [Martha and her Horses]

My Friend Flicka - The Stunts

Martha Crawford Cantarini Playlist on Youtube

Polo, Anyone? @Movie Morlocks [An account of polo in Hollywood]
Avatar: Frank McHugh (1898-1981)

The Skeins
TCM Movie Morlocks

User avatar
moira finnie
Administrator
Posts: 8176
Joined: April 9th, 2007, 6:34 pm
Location: Earth
Contact:

Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby moira finnie » October 5th, 2013, 7:35 am

This thread is now open and members are welcome to post their queries. Please remember that our guest is posting as rerun here on the SSO. For those of us adding to this thread from a more eastern time zone, please bear in mind that Martha lives on the west coast of Canada so that replies may reflect that time difference.

To get us started, Welcome, Martha!

Here's the first few questions for our guest:

Could you please explain the circumstances that first brought you to live in the Los Angeles area as a youngster? Why did you come into contact with so many figures in the studio period? Thanks in advance for your answers.
Avatar: Frank McHugh (1898-1981)

The Skeins
TCM Movie Morlocks

MikeBSG
Posts: 1777
Joined: April 25th, 2007, 5:43 pm

Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby MikeBSG » October 5th, 2013, 8:07 am

Hi Martha, thanks for stopping by.

I really love "Yellow Sky." What was it like working with William Wellman?

I remember Richard Widmark said that he found Wellman intimidating. Widmark fell off his horse and Wellman supposedly said "That's the last chance you get," and he never photographed Widmark mounting or dismounting a horse for the rest of the film.

User avatar
mongoII
Posts: 12345
Joined: April 14th, 2007, 7:37 pm
Location: Florida

Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby mongoII » October 5th, 2013, 9:14 am

Hi Martha and welcome to the Silver Screen Oasis. It's nice having you here.

Since you worked with and became friends with Eleanor Parker, perhaps you can tell us how she is doing these days?
Also are there any stars or directors you worked with that you didn't particularly care for?

Thank you kindly
Joseph Goodheart

User avatar
Sue Sue Applegate
Administrator
Posts: 3319
Joined: April 14th, 2007, 8:47 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » October 5th, 2013, 9:18 am

Hello, Martha! Thank you so much for joining us here at the Silver Screen Oasis! :-)

Your article,"How To Catch Any Horse," is a joy!

I've learned from all your film credits that you had worked as a stuntwoman on four films with Eleanor Parker (Interrupted Melody,1955, The Man With The Golden Arm,1955, The King and Four Queens,1956, and The Seventh Sin, 1957)and she is one of my favorite actresses. Can you tell us a little bit about how you worked with her, and what kind of person she was?

And what was the most difficult stunt that you did while working on one of her films?

Image
I just adore this photo of both of you! And like Mongo, I also would like to know how she's doing these days.
Blog: http://suesueapplegate.wordpress.com/
Twitter:@suesueapplegate
TCM Message Boards: http://forums.tcm.com/index.php?/topic/ ... ue-sue-ii/
Sue Sue : https://www.facebook.com/groups/611323215621862/
Thelma Ritter: Hollywood's Favorite New Yorker, University Press of Mississippi-2018
Avatar: Ginger Rogers, The Major and The Minor

User avatar
pvitari
Posts: 3016
Joined: January 30th, 2010, 8:26 am

Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby pvitari » October 5th, 2013, 10:47 am

Dear Martha, thanks so much for agreeing to answer our questions.

Did you ever meet Ben Johnson and if you did, could you please share your impressions and stories you might have? Thank you!

User avatar
rerun
Posts: 83
Joined: September 9th, 2013, 6:56 pm

Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby rerun » October 5th, 2013, 11:09 am

moirafinnie wrote:This thread is now open and members are welcome to post their queries. Please remember that our guest is posting as rerun here on the SSO. For those of us adding to this thread from a more eastern time zone, please bear in mind that Martha lives on the west coast of Canada so that replies may reflect that time difference.

To get us started, Welcome, Martha!

Here's the first few questions for our guest:

Could you please explain the circumstances that first brought you to live in the Los Angeles area as a youngster? Why did you come into contact with so many figures in the studio period? Thanks in advance for your answers.


Yes Moira I would love to. My father was a professional polo player who went to New York, Long Island, with one of the well known Texas teams. While there, he accepted a contract to play for Leslie Howard and captain his team. When Leslie decided to return to England the horses were all sent on the same passenger ship Leslie traveled on. They built stalls on the main deck for them. Amazing. Then Carl, my father, was contacted by Walter Wanger to play for him in California. I was about 7 years old. He played with WW at the Riviera Country Club. In those days, it was the 'in' thing I guess you would say for the Hollywood crowd to be involved in polo.
If the stars did not actually play, they were in the box seats in the grandstands cheering the other on. There were so many stars there on an every day basis that I just grew up among them thinking they were just horse lovers. Ha! He was eventually asked to manage the polo at the Uplifters Club in Santa Monica Canyon which was developed for the 'brass' of the Riviera! He played there with the same film crowd until WW2 started. After that time, though polo continued after the war it was never quite as big as it was before. But, still attracted the film colony.
Avatar: John Cantarini (Martha's husband) on future world record holder Crazy Kid. He won six in a row
on him.

User avatar
rerun
Posts: 83
Joined: September 9th, 2013, 6:56 pm

Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby rerun » October 5th, 2013, 11:15 am

pvitari wrote:Dear Martha, thanks so much for agreeing to answer our questions.

Did you ever meet Ben Johnson and if you did, could you please share your impressions and stories you might have? Thank you!

I met Ben Johnson on several occasions. Fat Jones was a motion picture livestock contractor and he supplied horses for the studios I worked the most for. Ben was his son-in-law being married to Fat's daughter Carol.
And, yes, he was as charming as you all think he was and maybe more so. As they say, he could charm the bark off the trees. Carol was a sweetheart and they seemed to be ideally suited to each other. She understood the rodeo calls and the film industry all the way. Darling people. The Ben I met was not a movie star persona. They had quite a modest house near Fat's stable, either North Hollywood or Burbank. Ben was just Ben. He was never a 'movie star' per se. Women pulled at him from all directions and Carol just smiled ie "I get to go home with him" type of demeanor.
Avatar: John Cantarini (Martha's husband) on future world record holder Crazy Kid. He won six in a row
on him.

User avatar
rerun
Posts: 83
Joined: September 9th, 2013, 6:56 pm

Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby rerun » October 5th, 2013, 11:50 am

MikeBSG wrote:Hi Martha, thanks for stopping by.

I really love "Yellow Sky." What was it like working with William Wellman?

I remember Richard Widmark said that he found Wellman intimidating. Widmark fell off his horse and Wellman supposedly said "That's the last chance you get," and he never photographed Widmark mounting or dismounting a horse for the rest of the film.


The first time I met William Wellman was great for me and actually there after. When I was introduced to him, and I have forgotten who it was that introduced us, being new they told him I was Carl Crawford's daughter. He threw his head back and laughed. He said, "Carl Crawford the polo player? Tell him I feel sorry for him - I was married to his first wife." It was really funny. I somehow missed the RW horse thing. Funny, as Richard was considered a nice rider for a film star and he was such a perfectionist in all he did it must have really bothered him. I always thought Yellow Sky was a 'comfortable' film location. Other than the fact that Ann Baxter looked down her nose at me for the whole location and even at the studio. Never could quite understand that. Only two film stars in my career did that.
Avatar: John Cantarini (Martha's husband) on future world record holder Crazy Kid. He won six in a row
on him.

User avatar
rerun
Posts: 83
Joined: September 9th, 2013, 6:56 pm

Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby rerun » October 5th, 2013, 12:03 pm

mongoII wrote:Hi Martha and welcome to the Silver Screen Oasis. It's nice having you here.

Since you worked with and became friends with Eleanor Parker, perhaps you can tell us how she is doing these days?
Also are there any stars or directors you worked with that you didn't particularly care for?

Thank you kindly


I wish I could tell you. I tried in vain to get in touch with Eleanor when I was to receive the Golden Boot to maybe be my presenter.
Eleanor, to me was absolutely the perfect model for the word, lovely lady. She had CLASS. And, she was very loyal to those who worked with her.
I was shocked to hear that another stunt girl had been sent to St. George, Utah to double her on The King and Four Queens. Turned out, the new girl was playing footsies with
the assistant director and he got her the job. Whew! I got a call from casting and they asked me how fast could I get ready to fly to St. George, Utah. Eleanor had thrown a fit and insisted
they bring me up there. A limo picked me up within an hour and took me to Burbank Airport where a CHARTERED Western Airlines DC-4 was waiting. I was the only passenger. I am sure the
crew to this day are saying, "who the blank blank is that?". Turned out, the scene in question was what we called a 'buckboard chase' for the end of the film. I had the best team of horses I
had ever worked with and though a pick up man was waiting for me off camera I signaled to him I was OK getting stopped and didn't even need him. It was a thrill for me. But, alas, they cut it
out of the picture. Eleanor said she would never be seen chasing a man and they re wrote the scene where she and Clark Gable leave together. Sigh . . . .
As far as stars or directors I didn't particularly like there were few: my list includes, Ann Baxter, Martha Hyer, Charlton Heston and director William Wyler. It was never an option to turn a job down. Chances are if you did you would not be called again by that casting office. But, Director Richard Brooks was an exception. I was told to report to the set - when there it was a stair fall, which I did not do anyway, but they told me I could turn down the job working with Brooks if I so chose! Amazing! I did. I turned it down.
Avatar: John Cantarini (Martha's husband) on future world record holder Crazy Kid. He won six in a row
on him.

User avatar
rerun
Posts: 83
Joined: September 9th, 2013, 6:56 pm

Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby rerun » October 5th, 2013, 12:45 pm

Sue Sue Applegate wrote:Hello, Martha! Thank you so much for joining us here at the Silver Screen Oasis! :-)

Your article,"How To Catch Any Horse," is a joy!

I've learned from all your film credits that you had worked as a stuntwoman on four films with Eleanor Parker (Interrupted Melody,1955, The Man With The Golden Arm,1955, The King and Four Queens,1956, and The Seventh Sin, 1957)and she is one of my favorite actresses. Can you tell us a little bit about how you worked with her, and what kind of person she was?

And what was the most difficult stunt that you did while working on one of her films?

Image
I just adore this photo of both of you! And like Mongo, I also would like to know how she's doing these days.


I would love to repeat myself. Eleanor was one of three stars I ever met who was a delightful person, a delightful lady and all Class. Jean Simmons and Linda Darnell were the others. What a lucky lady I was to have worked with them. Believe me, they are few and far between in the motion picture business as a whole. Eleanor was scheduled to do The Seventh Sin at Metro and asked for me to go to Hong Kong for her so she could stay home (personal problems) . I did and the camera man Ray June said he could photograph me as close as five feet if I was walking directly towards the camera with dark glasses on which were part of the wardrobe anyway. Helen Rose fitted me for the wardrobe to take to Hong Kong and was stunned to find Eleanor and I had the same high hip and low shoulder, etc. She said she could make the clothes for either of us from the others measurements. I tried to buy the 'to die for' wardrobe later but they wanted $5,000 for mine and that was out of the question in 1957. I loved the stand up Chinese collars on the blouses and dresses.
The rear into the fire in Interrupted Melody looked tough but it went amazingly well. However, there was a stunt in Hong Kong that was terrifying. 'Eleanor' is dressed in formal evening clothes and supposedly having a terrible verbal argument with her husband who is driving the car really fast around the tiny street with tight curves. They did not want to tell the local people that they were filming as they wanted their unrehearsed reactions. Whoa! About the third time we did that they knew what was going on. (they had never seen any one with red hair) When we stopped the last time ( there were no locks on the doors) the Chinese people swarmed the car and plastered their faces against the windows. They would jerk the doors open and laugh and slam the doors. Believe me it was terrifying as just the week before they had pulled the arms from an American diplomat woman. Ronald Neame was the director and he stopped the filming and sent me back to the hotel. I have never been so frightened before or sense.
Avatar: John Cantarini (Martha's husband) on future world record holder Crazy Kid. He won six in a row
on him.

User avatar
moira finnie
Administrator
Posts: 8176
Joined: April 9th, 2007, 6:34 pm
Location: Earth
Contact:

Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby moira finnie » October 5th, 2013, 1:02 pm

Wow. I don't think I would have handled any crowd scenes too well after that experience on The Seventh Sin, Martha. Was that setting in Hong Kong the roughest location you ever worked on during your career?

Could you please write a bit about your impressions of Clark Gable? Did you first meet him when you were a child? When you were making A King and Four Queens with him while doubling for Eleanor Parker, did he seem to be enjoying acting? Was he as down to earth as he came across in most accounts of him?
Avatar: Frank McHugh (1898-1981)

The Skeins
TCM Movie Morlocks

User avatar
Lzcutter
Administrator
Posts: 3180
Joined: April 12th, 2007, 6:50 pm
Location: Lake Balboa and the City of Angels!
Contact:

Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby Lzcutter » October 5th, 2013, 1:08 pm

Ms. Cantarini,

Thank you so much for visiting the Oasis! It's a delight to have you here!

I am so enjoying reading this thread! I am a big "Wild Bill" Wellman fan and laughed at your story about him. As for polo, did you meet Walt Disney (he was an avid polo player when he was younger) and, if so, what did you think of him?

Also, of all the stunts you performed, which one is your favorite and why?
Lynn in Lake Balboa

"Film is history. With every foot of film lost, we lose a link to our culture, to the world around us, to each other and to ourselves."

"For me, John Wayne has only become more impressive over time." Marty Scorsese

Avatar-Warner Bros Water Tower

User avatar
rerun
Posts: 83
Joined: September 9th, 2013, 6:56 pm

Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby rerun » October 5th, 2013, 1:57 pm

moirafinnie wrote:Wow. I don't think I would have handled any crowd scenes too well after that experience on The Seventh Sin, Martha. Was that setting in Hong Kong the roughest location you ever worked on during your career?

Could you please write a bit about your impressions of Clark Gable? Did you first meet him when you were a child? When you were making A King and Four Queens with him while doubling for Eleanor Parker, did he seem to be enjoying acting? Was he as down to earth as he came across in most accounts of him?


It seems that any time I got out of my horse action I got in trouble. The Hong Kong thing was frightening but so was the work on The Rains of Ranchipur. There again I was out of my 'box'. We were working with huge crowds in the earthquake scene. Although, many stunt people got hurt in the café scene where they dropped 50,000 gallons of water down a slids through swinging doors on us (insane!) what was scary as your imagination can play such tricks on you. The huge temple was made of sterifoam blocks. Perhaps 50 of us were standing on the steps in front of the temple. When they shot the scene they played the sound of a real building collapsing
all the while they collapsed the sterifoam temple down on top of us. I really thought I had bought the farm. Yikes. We got big pay but I would never do it again. Actually, I was hired to lead a horse and cart through all that chaos with hundreds of people. It was awful. I was slipping and sliding in the mud with only sandals on and trying to comfort the poor frightened horse. Ye gads. No more! I read that when that story was first filmed years before that several stunt people were killed and I can believe that. What a mess. It was a good lesson for me and I RAN back to the horse work that I knew. Whew!
Re Clark Gable:
If you listed all the most delightful things you could say about someone and rolled them into one it would, maybe, describe Clark Gable. What a sweetheart. Not even films could destroy that inner beauty he had.
I had met him when I was about 19 or 20 when we did a co-presentation of the trophy's at a polo game. Years later I arrived on the set of The King and Four Queens and met him again. I was never one to say, "you-hoo! I met you before" , blah, blah blah or ask a star for a picture or autograph! But, I was sitting on a horse waiting to do what I do not remember what, when I overheard him talking to someone, obviously about me and they were both looking right at me. "He said, who does she remind you of? . . .Ginny. And, of course he was referring to Virginia Grey who I understand was the real love of his life. We talked often on the set about horses mostly. His head would shake a bit when I was talking to him and I feared then he was not well. He enjoyed driving a horse and I said I did too. Before the location was over, he gave me a hand written note to the foreman of his place near Gorman and told him to give me his jogging cart and harness. It was beautiful. It was a cart for one horse with two wheels and a tan corduroy pillow on the seat. It was done in a dark red enamel and pin stripped with gold. His initials were on the side in gold . . .CG. Years later I still had it when I married a horse trainer who really took me for a ride. Unbeknownst to me he sold the cart and harness. I divorced him!
Avatar: John Cantarini (Martha's husband) on future world record holder Crazy Kid. He won six in a row
on him.

User avatar
rerun
Posts: 83
Joined: September 9th, 2013, 6:56 pm

Re: Welcome to Martha Crawford Cantarini

Postby rerun » October 5th, 2013, 2:08 pm

Lzcutter wrote:Ms. Cantarini,

Thank you so much for visiting the Oasis! It's a delight to have you here!

I am so enjoying reading this thread! I am a big "Wild Bill" Wellman fan and laughed at your story about him. As for polo, did you meet Walt Disney (he was an avid polo player when he was younger) and, if so, what did you think of him?

Also, of all the stunts you performed, which one is your favorite and why?


I do not remember Walt Disney actually playing polo although I know that he did. I remember seeing him with Mrs. Disney at the polo club house after the games with Frank Borage and his wife and Dr. Bill Branch. He was very nice and very well liked. There is a picture of him with the club 'group' in my book. My mother is in the center of the group. I have been told that the picture in my book is a rare shot of him laughing. He was very active on the 'going's on' at the polo clubs.

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.
Avatar: John Cantarini (Martha's husband) on future world record holder Crazy Kid. He won six in a row
on him.


Return to “Archived Guest Stars”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests