Wayne Crawford, Writer and Producer on 'Valley Girl,' Dies at 69

Wayne Crawford -Publicity - P 2016
Courtesy of Gregory Small

He also starred in several films and TV shows for his production company, Gibraltar Entertainment.

Wayne Crawford, who co-wrote and produced the 1983 comedy Valley Girl, directed by Martha Coolidge and starring Nicolas Cage in a career-making turn, has died. He was 69.

Crawford died Saturday of cancer at his home in Winston-Salem, N.C., according to Gregory Small, who served as a senior vp at Crawford's company, Gibraltar Entertainment.

While acting in a low-budget movie in Florida, Crawford met Andy Lane, initiating a long partnership and friendship that resulted in more than 30 indie features, including Valley Girl, Night of the Comet (1984), Jake Speed (1986) and The Evil Below (1989).

Crawford starred in many of those productions. In Jake Speed, he played the title character, a 1940s pulp-fiction action hero who resurfaces in the present day to rescue a kidnapped girl. In Valley Girl, which he and Lane wrote, he appeared as Lyle, the boyfriend of the sexy mom played by Lee Purcell. (In the film's pivotal party scene, he refers to sushi as "bait.")

Crawford-Lane Productions evolved into Gibraltar Entertainment, which also was behind the 1990s FX series Okavango: The Wild Frontier, which Crawford created and starred in as an attorney who moves his family from Los Angeles to the African jungle. The show was shot in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

Crawford also directed several TV and movie projects, including the Africa-set film u'Bejani (1997).

A native of Geneva, N.Y., Crawford was a member and chair of the directing faculty of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts for more than a dozen years.

Survivors include his wife, Olena, whom he met on location in Ukraine (they collaborated on documentary productions and TV series that focused on wildlife and the natural history of southern Africa), and children Katerina, Nealy and Lance.