Ted Lee Crail, 85, longtime vice president of creative affairs for the Animal Protection Institute, died on April 16, 2014 in Kalispell, Montana.
Born in Wolf Point, Montana, Crail spent most of his childhood in Kalispell, and returned there in 2006 with his companion Maria Arnold, whom he married on February 10, 2014. His first wife, artist and film maker Lee Polivan Crail, died in 1998, after 42 years of marriage.
Co-editor of his high school newspaper, the Flathead Arrow, Crail began stringing for United Press International before graduation, then earned $10 a week as a columnist and editor for the weekly Flathead Monitor. Admitted to the University of Washington creative writing program in 1946, Crail as a freshman won his first national audience with “Progress Hits My Town,” an essay for the Saturday Evening Post about the impact of building the Hungry Horse Dam near Kalispell. Begun in 1944, the dam was completed in 1953, and at the time was the second highest concrete dam ever built.
“Progress Hits My Town” positioned Crail to become a pioneering environmental journalist, but upon graduation he took a different direction, relocating to become a general assignment reporter for the Dunn Daily Record in North Carolina. In that capacity Crail covered some of the influential events in the early civil rights movement, became a frequent stringer for Associated Press, and learned news photography. Advancing his career by moving from newspaper to newspaper as opportunities developed, Crail found a niché in celebrity journalism as editor and daily columnist for the Miami Beach Sun, also writing for TV Guide. This led to a stint in public relations, including several years as publicist and ghostwriter for Jackie Gleason, one of the biggest stars in early network television.
Crail joined the Animal Protection Institute in 1975, spending the next 25 years as API publicist, ghostwriter for founder Belton Mouras, author of Apetalk & Whalespeak: The Quest for Interspecies Communication (1981), and script writer for the film The Ninth Crusade.
Following his career with API, which merged with Born Free USA in 2007, Crail in 1995 opened and for 10 years operated the Lively Arts Bookstore Gallery in Sacramento.
(See also Animal rights movement pioneer Belton Mouras, 90.)
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Barry Kent MacKay says
I knew both Ted and API founder Belton Mouras very well and worked closely with them. Ted and I did not always get along, but his saving grace was that he was so much a “people person”, with a gift for the gab. He genuinely liked people and certainly was kindly predisposed toward animals. Belton was a true character, a bit of a rogue, and yet filled with that “aw shucks” backwoods Louisiana charm that was so attractive to people. He treated people around him very well. Both men turned my life onto a trajectory I couldn’t have predicted, all to the good, I think (who knows “what might have been”?)