Born on August 12, 1917 in Chicago, Illinois, Oliver Kaufman Crawford was an American author, screenwriter and television writer through the 50s, 60s and 70s. He was a graduate of the Chicago Art Institute and the Goodman Theatre school, alongside actors Sam Wanamaker and Karl Malden, both of whom became his lifelong friends.
Crawford began working in the television industry as a writer in the early 1950s. By 1953, he had contracted to work with both Harold Hecht and Burt Lancaster, but he was summoned to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was investigating suspected Communist sympathizers in Hollywood. The circumstances of his summons are unrevealed, but when Crawford refused to name suspected Communists sympathizers within the entertainment industry, his refusal to implicate anyone in Hollywood led to his blacklisting. Fired from his 1953 contract, he moved to New York City with his family after being blacklisted and was forced to take several jobs to make ends meet, including designing window displays.
Crawford was finally able to return to television in 1957 when actor Sam Levene got him a job as a writer for "Playhouse 90," launching a career writing for television for many shows including "Gilligan's Island," "The Fugitive," "The Outer Limits," "The Rifleman," "The Big Valley," "Rawhide," " Love, American Style," "The Bionic Woman," "Kojak," "Mannix" and "Ironside" among other TV shows.
In 1978, Crawford authored the novel, The Execution, about the survivors of a Nazi concentration camp who recognized a former Nazi doctor who had experimented on them. The novel was popular enough to inspire the 1985 TV-movie with the same name. He went on to serve the board of directors of the Writers Guild of America for twenty-six years following the restoration of his screenwriting career. His position in the Writers Guild allowed him to advocate for financial restitution for victims of the Hollywood blacklist.
For his work, Crawford received a Writers Guild award nomination for his episode of "The Outer Limits." He was also a multiple Emmy Award nominated television writer and also an associate professor for filmmaking at Loyola Marymount University.
On September 24, 2008, Crawford died from complications from pneumonia in Los Angeles at the age of 91. He is survived by two daughters, Jo Kaufman and Vicki Crawford, and his son Kenneth Kaufman.