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(March 2003)

Broderick Crawford, "10-4" in Highway Patrol"Whenever the laws of any state are broken, a duly authorized organization swings into action. It may be called the State Police, State Troopers, Militia, the Rangers or the Highway Patrol. These are the stories of the men whose training, skill and courage have enforced and preserved our state laws."

In the early 1950s California Highway Patrol Commissioner Bernie Caldwell was seized with envy. Jack Webb had created the television show Dragnet and was bringing gobs of glorious publicity for the Los Angeles Police Deparment. Commissioner Caldwell hankered for some of that publicity for his beloved Highway Patrol. He sent a PR man to Hollywood to sell a program about the CHP. That was start of Highway Patrol, one of the most successful syndicated shows in television history with 156 episodes that originally played over four seasons from 1955 to 1959.

All The King's Men
All The King's MenBeefy, gruff voiced, hard drinking Broderick Crawford, writer-director Robert Rossen and character actor Mercedes McCambridge (in her film debut) took home Oscars in 1949 (for Best Actor, Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress, respectively) for this excellent adaptation of Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Crawford stars as Willie Stark, a charismatic populist Southern politician (inspired by the real Louisiana Governor Huey Long) who belies his "man of the people" roots as he ruthlessly maneuvers, lies, and deals his way into the halls of power.

Crawford had labored many years as a heavy and in bit parts before striking it rich in All The King’s Men. The next year, in 1950, he made Born Yesterday with the wonderful Judy Holliday. He was then one of the first major movie actors to enter the fledgling medium of television when he accepted the role of Chief Dan Mathews in Highway Patrol.

Highway Patrol Poster10-4 Redux
Most baby-boomers remember Broderick Crawford best from this series, growling “10-4” into his car microphone. The success of the series (which was an overnight hit) was in part because of the no-nonsense bearing of Crawford’s character, and in part because of the authenticity of the stories and the scripts. This authenticity was maintained by the assignment of CHP Officer Frank Runyon, I.D.# 475 as technical advisor. Plots and scenes in many of the episodes were based on Officer Runyon's personal experiences and anecdotes. Among his responsibilities, Frank had to read and approve all the scripts which insured that they were straight and accurate.

Broderick Crawford later appeared in a 1977 episode of CHiPs, a much less authentic show about the California Highway Patrol, and he made a hilarious cameo as himself in that sweet, sweet movie A Little Romance (1979) -truly a favorite of us here at The Toast. Broderick Crawford died of a stroke in 1986.

Finally, we at The Toast wish to say 'thank you' to our new friends at the Golden Gate Communications Center of the California Highway Patrol. We appreciate the warm welcome and thoughtful help you've given our founder. If you like our web site drop us a line. By the way, the first paragraph above was the opening narration of each and every episode of the Highway Patrol television show.

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