Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
April 12, 1957
By Larry Harnisch
Those who say you can never be too rich or too thin never heard of Caren Lynn Crabbe, the daughter of "Flash Gordon" star Buster Crabbe, a young woman of wealth and privilege who weighed 60 pounds when she died at the age of 20.
Crabbe, who was nicknamed "Sande," died at the home of her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Held, 840 Napoli Drive, Pacific Palisades.
A 1954 graduate of the Marlborough School for Girls, Sande had been attending USC and was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, the Ticktockers of the Los Angeles Charity League and Silver Spoons of California Babies and Children's Hospital. She dropped out of college in March, because "she just couldn't make it," her father said.
Anorexia nervosa was apparently a mysterious affliction in 1957. The Times reported that she died of "malnutrition brought on by an emotional disturbance." The family said Sande had been losing weight for about a year. Still, her death was unexpected, her doctor said.
"It was a complete surprise," said Dr. Carl D. Strouse. "That is why I didn't sign the death certificate."
After an elaborate funeral at Little Church of the Flowers, Sande was buried at Forest Lawn wearing a peach pink nylon gown, The Times said.
"The coppertone metal casket bearing the girl's body was blanketed by a profusion of floral sprays and wreaths--more than 75, mortuary attendants said," according to The Times. "Following the playing of the 'Ave Maria,' the casket was taken to Forest Lawn for emtombment. Members of the family entered the mausoleum but they remained only a few minutes."
Sande was survived by her parents; sister Susan Allen Crabbe, brother Cullen Held Crabbe, who was appearing in the TV show "Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion"; grandparents Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Held, and grandmother Agnes Akins.