Frank R. Strayer: Of Bats and “Blondie”

W.C. Fields and Chester Conklin et al visiting the set of the Wallace Beery aviation picture Now We’re in the Air (1927), directed by Strayer (2nd from left). Thanks, Derek Davidson!

Frank R. Strayer (1891-1964) helmed close to 100 films from the mid ’20s to the early ’50s. Originally from Altoona, Strayer attended Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon) and later served in World War One. After the Armistice in 1918 he headed out to Hollywood to try his luck. His apprenticeship was brief. He acted in one film, The Man Who (1921), starring Bert Lytell, and was A.D. on the first adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street (1923), Beau Brummel (1924) and Rose of the World (1925) before getting the opportunity to sit in the director’s chair himself in An Enemy of Men (1925). His best remembered films included the B movie horror classics The Monster Walks (1932), The Vampire Bat (1933) and The Ghost Walks (1934) and 14 of the Blondie comedies.

After the Blondie series ended, Strayer did Mama Loves Papa (1945) with Leon Errol and Senorita from the West (1945) with Allan Jones and Bonita Granville and then several religious films. His last credits were episodes of The Stu Erwin Show (1950-52).

For more on silent and classic comedy film, please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.