Clarence "Buster" Crabbe grew up in Honolulu and learned to swim by diving for tourists' coins. He also played polo for the Honolulu Military Academy and graduated from Punahou High School in 1927.
He won a bronze medal in the 1928 Olympics in the 1500-meter free-style swimming event and a gold medal at the 1932 Olympics in the 400-meter free-style. He held six world records at one time.
After his swimming career ended, he starred in many Hollywood roles: Tarzan, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon and Captain Gallant.
Unemployment in the United States was at a record 12 million.