Ray "Crash" Corrigan

Compiled by Dick "Colorado" Oakes



Tom Ray Corrigan with his father, Ray "Crash" Corrigan

Tommy and Ray Corrigan
Ray "Crash" Corrigan was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on February 14, 1902. His birth name was Raymond Benitz which he changed to Raymond Benard.

He had been on the Hollywood scene since the early 1930s, working as a physical fitness instructor for movie stars. He soon found himself at MGM as a muscular stand-in and double for Johnny Weissmuller of Tarzan fame.

He had maried Elaine DuPont from whom he was divorced. He later married Rita Jane Smeal, with whom he had three children, and from whom he was also divorced.

Bit parts in 1932 led to action roles in the "Mutiny on the Bounty." He filmed "Undersea Kingdom" and "The Leathernecks Have Landed" in 1936. During these early days, he was Ray Benard. The name change to Ray Corrigan would occur in his role in "Undersea Kingdom."

Republic signed him to a Term Player Contract from 1936 to 1938. He was cast as Tucson Smith, one of the trio in the "Three Mesquiteers" series of films, and starred in 24 in all. He left Republic in 1939.

Corrigan found a property in Simi Valley, California, while on a hunting trip. Thus was born "Corriganville," a working movie ranch founded in 1937. On weekends, it was open to the public where kids could see stuntmen in wild-west gunfights and meet movie stars, such as Rin-Tin-Tin and Chief Thundercloud. The ranch was subsequently sold to Bob Hope and renamed Hopetown. All sets were lost in fires. This location was home to early motorcycle races that subsequently became Motocross. The area now is a park and some housing.

At Monogram Pictures, he starred in another trio film, "The Range Busters." Ray starred in 20 of the 24 films in this series between 1940 and 1943.

Following this, his on screen work largely returned to appearing in an ape costume, such as in "White Gorilla" in 1947, "Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla" in 1952, and "Killer Apes" in 1953. He also played It in "It, the Terror from Beyond Space" in 1958.

After he retired he operated a number of successful businesses.

Ray died of a heart attack at Brookings Harbor, Oregon, on August 10, 1976.