Wednesday, December 7, 2011

George W. Crane (1901-1995)

Teacher, Physician, Newspaper Columnist, Author, and Public Speaker
Born April 28, 1901, Chicago, Illinois
Died July 17, 1995, Hillsboro, Indiana

Dr. George Washington Crane III was born on April 28, 1901, in Chicago, Illinois, and spent most of his life in the Chicago area. He received four degrees from Northwestern University (the last in 1935) and taught at that institution between 1922 and 1938, taking time out to study psychology at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C., in 1925-1929. He seems to have been at the right place at the right time for two early credits in Weird Tales, a magazine also based in Chicago. Crane wrote two stories for "The Unique Magazine," "An Eye for an Eye" (May 1923) and "The Monstrosity" (Jan. 1924). He also wrote an early letter in the May 1923 issue.

Crane got his start as a writer by penning jokes and gags for humor magazines. Weird Tales was founded by Jacob Clark Henneberger, who also published humor magazines, including the first incarnation of College Humor. That may have provided George Crane's introduction to "The Unique Magazine." In any case, beginning in 1932 with Psychology Applied, Crane authored one or two books per decade until the 1960s, including Test Your Horse Sense (1942), Guidebook for Counseling (How to Cash In on Your Worries) (1956), The Quotable Dr. Crane (1968), and Something for Everybody: Smorgasbord for the Varied Hungers of the Spirit (1968), illustrated by the cartoonist Jack Hamm. If those titles sound like self-help books, it's for good reason. Trained in medicine and psychology, Dr. Crane took his work to the people. He wrote two long-running newspaper columns, "Horse Sense" or "Test Your Horse Sense" and "Case Records" or "The Worry Clinic." He also appeared on radio and in 1957 created the first computer dating service through The Scientific Marriage Foundation of Mellott, Indiana.

Politically conservative and active in religion, Crane was the patriarch of a sizable brood who went on to their own successes. His sons Philip M. Crane and Daniel B. Crane served in the U.S. House of Representatives for many years, while their brother, David Crane, followed his father into the field of medicine and psychiatry. The eldest son, Marine Lt. George W. Crane IV, was killed in a jet crash in an airshow in 1956. At the time, Lt. Crane was working on an idea for a Christmas song and storybook. His family picked up the project where Lt. Crane left off, producing a book called Little Sandy Sleighfoot (1957), written by June C. Unwin and illustrated by James Alan Unwin, with lyrics by Philip M. Crane and music by Joseph E. Savarino. Country music singer Jimmy Dean recorded the song "Little Sandy Sleighfoot," released two days before Christmas 1957. It reached #32 on the pop charts. The Crane family followed that success with a comic strip, variously called "Little Sandy Sleighfoot," "Sandy Sleighfoot," or "Sandy," syndicated from 1959-1989. George Crane was credited as writer for part of that time. Jim and June Unwin were also credited.

After a long and very successful career, George W. Crane died at his Hillsboro, Indiana, farm on July 17, 1995. He was ninety-four years old.

George W. Crane's Stories and Letter in Weird Tales
"An Eye for an Eye" (May 1923)
Letter (May 1923)
"The Monstrosity" (Jan. 1924)

Further Reading
There is plenty of reading on and by George W. Crane on the Internet and in his many books.

A sampling of the cover for Little Sandy Sleighfoot (1957), a children's book and song created by June C. Unwin, James Alan Unwin, Philip M. Crane, and Joseph E. Savarino, based on an idea by Lt. George W. Crane IV.
And the comic-strip version of Little Sandy Sleighfoot with art by Jim Unwin.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley


  1. Hello,...thanks for the nice article. I'm trying to reach Jim Unwin for an interview on my podcast called, BOING! and I cannot seem to locate any contact information for him. Do you have any contact info for Mr. Unwin?

  2. Dear Togotooner,

    I'm afraid I don't have any contact information. I contacted another artist named Unwin, but he's no relation. Good luck with your search. If you find him, can you let me know? Thanks.


  3. Did you ever locate Jim Unwin?

    1. Dear Unknown,

      No, I haven't found any sign of him.


  4. Did you ever locate Jim Unwin?