Wayne Crawford, an actor, writer, director and producer whose credits include co-scripting the 1983 comedy Valley Girl and creating the FX documentary series Okavango: The Wild Frontier, died Saturday at his home in Winston-Salem, NC. He was 69.
A native of Geneva, NY, Crawford began acting off-Broadway and in touring stage productions. While working in Florida, he met Andy Lane, and they began a long partnership that resulted in numerous indie pics including Trial by Terror (1983) and Jake Speed (1986) — both of which the partners co-wrote and starred Crawford — and Valley Girl, which starred Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman as lovers from different sides of the 101 Freeway. Crawford also appeared in Valley Girl, which was future Oscar winner Cage’s first starring role.
The partners’ Crawford-Lane Productions would evolve into Gibraltar Entertainment. The latter company was behind Okavango: The Wild Frontier, which aired in 1993-94 on FX in the U.S. and on other international outlets. Crawford created, wrote for and co-starred in the series, which followed a middle-class American family that inherits a run-down ranch in Africa and butts heads with a guy who wants to buy the ranch and poach its animals for profit.
While continuing to act in films and TV shows, Crawford also partnered with his wife on documentary productions and TV series that focused on wildlife and the natural history of southern Africa. He was a chair of the directing faculty of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts for more than 12 years.
He is survived by his wife, Olena; daughters Katerina Crawford and Nealy Frentz; and son, Lance Crawford.