Producer and director Cheryl Crawford was born September 24, 1902, in Akron, Ohio to Louella E. (Parker) and Robert K. Crawford. Crawford died on October 7, 1986, in New York City.
Although involved in at least one high school dramatic production, Crawford began her formal acting career while at Smith College, when she became involved with Smith College Dramatic Association. While a student, she produced Shakuntala, a Sanskrit drama. During the summer of 1924 Crawford was associated with the Provincetown Players of Cape Cod. In 1925 she graduated from Smith College, cum laude.
Following graduation, Crawford attended a school managed by the Theatre Guild in New York City. She worked with the Theatre Guild until 1930, working first as a secretary and a third assistant manager. Later she worked as a casting director and general assistant on Theatre Guild productions.
In 1930, Crawford left the Theatre Guild to form the Group Theatre, sharing the responsibilities as director of the group with Harold Clurman and Lee Strasberg. During this period she directed Big Night (1933), Till the Day I Die (1935), and Weep for the Virgins (1935) as well as assisting with the direction of the first production by the Group Theatre, The House of Connelly (1931). She left the Group Theatre in 1937 to begin directing on her own.
Between 1937 and her death in 1986, Crawford was involved in the production of more than 100 shows. From 1937 through 1945 Crawford worked primarily on Broadway. While working at the Maplewood Theatre in New Jersey, 1940-1942, she produced different shows on a weekly basis and worked with such stars as Tallulah Bankhead, Ingrid Bergman, Gloria Swanson in productions such as The Time of Your Life and Charley's Aunt.
In 1946, Crawford formed the American Repertory Theatre with Eva Le Gallienne and Margaret Webster. In 1947, Crawford united with Robert Lewis and Elia Kazan to form the Actors Studio. Crawford served as both a member of the board of directors and as an executive producer during the Actors Studio Theatre, which ran during 1963 and 1964.
Crawford was active as a producer for fifty-five years, co-producing So Long on Lonely Street in 1986. During that time she produced musicals such as Brigadoon, Porgy and Bess, Paint Your Wagon, and Celebration. Crawford also produced four Tennessee Williams plays, among them Sweet Bird of Youth, in which Paul Newman starred, and Period of Adjustment. Some of the highlights from productions during the last decades of her life include Yentl, Mother Courage and Her Children, and Do You Turn Somersaults.
Crawford's awards include an honorary Doctor of Literature from Smith College, awarded in 1962, and an Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award in 1951 for Tennessee William's The Rose Tattoo. She was named Woman of the Year in 1959. In 1964 she was awarded an Achievement Medal from Brandeis University.