Clarence Linden “Buster” Crabbe was an American athlete and actor, who starred in a number of popular serials in the 1930s and 1940s.
He was born as Clarence Linden Crabbe II to Lucy Agnes McNamara and Edward Clinton Simmons Crabbe I in Oakland, California. His father was born in Nevada and his paternal grandfather, Clarence Linden Crabbe I, was born in Hawaii. Buster had a brother, Edward Clinton Simmons Crabbe II, who was known as “Buddy”. In 1910 the family was living in a boarding house in Oakland and Edward senior was working as a real estate broker. Like many Hollywood stars there is a conflict between the birthdate given in his official documents, and the one used in his Hollywood publicity biographies. His birth certificate and his Social Security application both use the birthdate of February 7, 1908. The Encyclopædia Britannica uses an incorrect birthdate based on his Hollywood publicity biography.
Raised in Hawaii, he graduated from the Punahou School in Honolulu. He excelled as a swimmer and participated in two Olympic Games: 1928, where he won the bronze medal for the 1,500 meter freestyle, and 1932, where he won the gold medal for the 400 meter freestyle.
He attended the University of Southern California, where he was the school’s first All-American swimmer and a 1931 NCAA freestyle titlist. He also became a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity before graduating from USC in 1931. In 1933 he married his college sweetheart Adah Virginia Held, and gave himself one year to either make it as an actor or start law school at USC. Buster and Virginia remained together until Buster’s death in 1983. They had two daughters, Sande and Susan, and a son, Cullen. Sande died of what appeared to be anorexia in 1957, she was 20 years old and weighed only 60 pounds.