- Judith A. Sebesta
(b Akron, OH, Sept 24, 1902; d New York, NY, Oct 7, 1986). American producer. After graduating from Smith College, Crawford moved to New York to pursue further training in acting at the Theatre Guild, where she performed in two productions before abandoning her acting career. During her time at the Guild, Crawford met Harold Clurman and Lee Strasberg; in 1931, the triumvirate formed the influential Group Theatre, for which she directed five productions and developed the musical Johnny Johnson (1936) with Kurt Weil and Paul Green. She resigned from the company to focus on producing, to which she dedicated the remainder of her career. Her most celebrated productions include many musicals, such as Porgy and Bess (1942), One Touch of Venus (1943), Brigadoon (1947), and Paint Your Wagon (1951).
As a producer, Crawford was valued for her keen management skills and financial acumen. In the face of great emotional difficulties—tangling with the House Un-American Activities Committee, the destruction of her Connecticut home by fire, and embezzlement of personal funds by a trusted assistant—she continued to produce up to the final decade of her life....