Fred Graham


Baseball gave burly Fred Graham his start in motion pictures. In 1928 he was working for the MGM sound department and also playing semi-pro baseball on the side. The studio was making a murder mystery called Death on the Diamond (1934), starring Robert Young and Nat Pendleton. Graham was hired to tutor Young and Pendleton in the fine points of the game, and doubled Pendleton in the catching scenes. This started him on a more than 40-year career as a stuntman and actor. While at the studio he doubled Clark Gable, Nelson Eddy and Charles Bickford. He went over to Warner Bros. in 1938, and his initial assignment was to double Basil Rathbone in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). In 1941 he moved to Republic Pictures and worked on the studio's famed westerns and serials, and was a major part of the team of stunt experts, including such aces as David Sharpe and Tom Steele, responsible for the reputation that Republic enjoyed as having the best stunt department in the business. Graham met John Wayne there and stunted for him in many of the films Wayne made at the studio. He also appeared in many films as an actor, usually playing truck drivers, cops, soldiers, crooks, etc. In 1968 he went to work for Arizona's Department of Economic Planning and Development of Motion Pictures, and had more to do with bringing filming to the state of Arizona than anyone else. In Arizona they have the "Carefree at Southwest Studios", which was formerly known as "The Graham Studio". In 1978 "Slugger", a nickname he got in his Republic days, passed away.