Baseball gave burly Fred Graham his start in motion pictures in 1928 as he was working for the MGM sound department and also playing semi-pro baseball on the side. The studio hired to tutor Robert Young and Nat Pendleton in the fine points of the game in the catching scenes in murder mystery film, Death on the Diamond. When Graham was hired to doubled for Nat Pendleton it was the start of a 40-year career as a stuntman and actor.
Graham worked at the studio as a doubled for Clark Gable, Nelson Eddy, Charles Bickford, in 1938, he went to Warner Bros. and for an initial assignment to double as Basil Rathbone in The Adventures of Robin Hood. By 1941 he moved to Republic Pictures and worked on the studio's famed westerns and serials and became a major part of the team of stunt experts, including such aces as David Sharpe and Tom Steele. Graham met John Wayne at Republic Pictures and stunted for him in many films at Republic studio. Graham also appeared in many films as an actor, usually playing truck drivers, cops, soldiers, crooks, etc.
By 1968 Graham went to work for Arizona's Department of Economic Planning and Development of Motion Pictures and was instrumental in bringing filming to the state of Arizona. In the mid to late 1960s,Graham retired from Hollywood and moved to Scottsdale, Arizona and by early 1970s, Graham was appointed the first director of the (newly formed) Arizona Film Commission.. Fred Graham was affectionately known as "burly Fred Graham" for his street brawl "fistcuffs" and nicknamed "Slugger," during his work at Republic Picture and was battered by everyone from Rex Allen, Roy Rogers and Allan Lane to Bill Elliott, Monte Hale and Sunset Carson. Bill Witney once proclaimed Graham "... the best screen brawler I ever used." Graham's reputation firmly established as one of the stunt greats and when Fred was queried about his very realistic fights on screen. He answered, "Fights came easy to me. My ideas to make fights look good on screen were to stay loose and relaxed, a little distance from your opponent, and throw punches. Never throw a punch at chin level because a good take makes it look like a miss. Throw (the punch) at the opponent's eye level because a good take makes it appear like its right on the chin. Design your routines for 30 to 40 seconds of screen time, leaving room for closeups on the stars," he said.
Fred Graham worked at the Apacheland Movie Studio in Audie Murphy's No. #39 film, Arizona Raiders, co-star, Michael Dante. Audie Murphy produced two movies at Apacheland to include, No. 44 and last film, "A Time For Dying," at Apacheland when Audie Murphy died in a tragic plane crash, May 28, 1971. www.audiemurphy.com
Fred Graham worked with the best actors, best producers and at best movie locations available and listed as one of the greatest 'fight' men ever in the film business. Born in Springer, New Mexico, Oct. 26, 1908. Died Oct. 10, 1979.
Fred Graham at high speed. Lights! Camera! Action!