Crash Corrigan & the Evil Oil Change
Ever watch one of those National Geographic presentations where animals do amazing things – especially to each other. One I like best is where wild Rams crash into one another head-on – of course they have four inch horns – and other than being dazed a bit don’t seem to mind whacking each other to a standstill..
Now with humans some of the more aggressive have this same tendency except they usually butt someone who is standing still. My intensive research showed that the good frontal bone plate which protects our brain is about ¼ inch thick (unless of course you are a relative of Crash Corrigan – much more thickness). The butt-er has an advantage over the butt-ee because he is usually swinging his frontal plate against stationery bone. You can actually cause a concussion or worse depending on thickness, speed, and torque put into the smash. There is a common rumor that I continually hear that says if you have a very thick frontal plate to protect your brain, there is a good chance you may not be too bright since bone has replaced where the brains frontal lobe could expand. Einstein was obviously not head butter. Check for yourself among those of your friends that have a certain Neanderthal look. . I’ve checked – rumor is true. But what does all this bone thickness, velocity of swinging the head. Etc. has to do anything about our hero Crash Corrigan. You are about to find out.
Never heard of Crash Corrigan? Well I wouldn’t expect you to think much about him other than its sort of a cool name. He was a big time hero of mine – protecting the rights of the injured, serving the public at large, purging society of dangerous criminals, bringing wrongdoers to justice – just the name alone got me excited. Flash Gordon is the only other star I can think of that would compare. Crash’s real name was Raymond Bernard, but you can’t have a name like Crash Raymond or Crash Bernard, so he changed it to Crash Corrigan in 1934. There are several legends about how the Crash name came about. He was such a terrible horseman that it was a common sight to see him unexpectedly dismount a horse, usually thrown over the horses head. Since he was a B movie actor he also got thrown through no less that 26 barroom windows. Other rumors said he was just clumsy and continually crashed into anything higher than a cow pie. Truth is that he liked to get into legitimate brawls on occasion and his weapon of choice was his rock hard forehead. Lots of bets on how much blood would stay on the clothes or drain to the ground. Crash really was a warm-hearted gentleman – usually – but underneath was a ruthless competitor that thoroughly enjoyed watching you bleed on a movie set. We’ll see in a few minutes how the name Crash really originated.
Before we start our main story you probably want to know a bit more about Crash. First of all he entered the movie business because he did his own stunts – he was crashing into things all the time so here was a way to make some money. He also loved Gorillas (take a look at the forehead on a gorilla and you’ll see why). In fact he had a very good Gorilla suit made before he tried the movies. He tried to get the producer to let him wear a gorilla suit at the beginning and end of any film. And indeed his initial start was in the movie Tarzan and his Mate in 1934. He was the Orangopoid in the original Flash Gordon movie in 1935. He also had a roll in Undersea Kingdom. He probably got hired because he owned the monkey suit – once again a savings for the producer. From 1936 to 1938 he made 24 films as one of the trio of The Three Musketeers. Think about it, that is one movie every four weeks. By now he was known far and wide as Crash – since many of his landings, fallings, and banging his head would have killed a normal man. He didn’t believe he was getting paid enough for he and his gorilla suit and left in 1938 to start a number of films called the Range Busters. You know, black hat vs. white hat with the white hats always winning in the end.
(There was also a rumor that he head butted and called the current producer a pernicious little bastard as he left. He starred in 20 of the Buster films, which was his own company. Same plot most of the time with Crash getting thrown off buildings, out of windows and dismounting most animal’s head first, but prevailing in the end. Finally giving up cowboy work and being extremely tired of falling off his horse or thrown through a window, he went back to the ape costume with title roles in Nabonga, White Pongo, The Unknown Island, The Ape and It. The Terror from Outer Space. Having had about 10 years of crashing (and head butting if he got the chance) into everything imaginable, He bought some acreage in Simi Valley and rented it out very successfully to movie companies – sold his gorilla suit and was now just a regular businessman. It was a disappointment to me – I was hoping he go up against one of those big horn rams and end it that way.
But now, Crash & the Evil Oil Change – I think this is where his real name came from. Being frugal (cheap), he wouldn’t take the 1933 ford he owned to a garage to get he oil changed. Not necessary he said. “Its a rip off! They want $3 to change it. Who knows? Someday it could be ten times that.” Crash’s first oil change was a classic. One of his buddies told him what to do but wasn’t present. Crash got the car real hot so the oil would flow out quickly and completely. He then took the Ford to his back yard and parked in a not so level slope. No jack so he had to crawl under the car – about an inch between his nose and the undercarriage of the car – in fact he really had problem moving his arms around – and his chest rubbed up against the car bottom whenever he moved. His first attempt to undo the drain plug with a crescent wrench was very unsuccessful. But as Crescent Wrenches are known to do, it slipped and Crash removed most of the skin from his right knuckles – he yelped and banged his head on the oil pan putting a sixteenth inch dent in the piece of steel – no easy task even with a hammer let alone your forehead. He decided that maybe he was trying to turn the wrench the wrong way, but it probably just needed more pressure. Even with his foot on the wrench it wouldn’t move. Reversed the wrench and finally the plug moved. Crash undid the bolt but forgot that the oil was 220 degrees.
The oil came out, most of it running down his arm with big time screams – two blocks away was the distance they could be heard…Since he was on the down side slope the oil of course ran into his cloths. It was hard to tell what was going on because of the dirt he was kicking, and the banging (crashing) of his head and body on the undercarriage. Four major dents on the oil pan alone (hence the name Crash). He also continued to use some very unsatisfactory language that went on for ten minutes as he struggled to get out from under the car. Once his two friends dragged his burned, bleeding and bruised body from under the Ford he administered some kicks to the exterior injuring his toes on the left foot, and breaking two toes on his right.. Well there were still a few problems – oil all the way under the ford and the plug was missing – Crash dropped it as soon as the first gush of oil scalded his hand. Also the filter needed to be changed, but that was supposed to be easy. First Crash rolled the ford about 15 feet away from the oil mess, the he hunted up the oil plug. This was real progress. Once again, he crawled underneath to disassemble the filter – same story – bolt the wrong way, hot oil splashing down – lots of bad language – Pounded the out side of the ford with his fists this time – just one broken finger, It made it a bit harder to find the missing bolt in the oil/dirt mess, but he eventually got it.
Time to put in the new filter and plug. The filter went okay; the drain plug not so good – he wasn’t sure which way it turned but he finally got it started. He immediately decided to use his feet in tightening the plug. He put all his weight on it – in fact right at the end it seemed to turn a bit easier. Now it was down hill. Put the oil in, crank it up and see if there was a solvent that would clean all of the oil off his skin and away he would go. Started her up, seemed good, but he could hear something under the engine. He looked down and there was a nice spray of oil coming from the plug – he had over tightened it and stripped the treads – it left a nice one inch trail of oil where ever he went, Crash was sure the oil companies, Ford Motor Company, were somehow evilly behind this whole fiasco. But in reality they really helped him established the valiant and prestigious name of Crash Corrigan. When he died in his 70′s no one mentioned Raymond, or Bernard. He was known to one and all as Crash Corrigan – one of my greatest heroes. And even after all the success he had crashing into cars, through buildings and into other actors, he died while living in a trailer court in Brookings Harbor, Oregon. He is buried in the Inglewood cemetery in California but alas, no one marked his grave. Marked or unmarked he’ll always be a hero to me.