The Wreck & Crash Mail Society




Crash Mail and the Movies

By Thomas J. Richards


As a collector and exhibitor of Movie related mail (e.g. mail to/from movie stars and/or movie companies), I am always on the lookout for unusual items to/from the above groups.  Mail to movie companies is less common but fan mail to movie stars numbers in the hundreds of thousands.  Some major stars received tens (10s) of thousands of letters a week.  So I am always looking for unusual usages, mail from exotic locations, censored mail, POW mail and, of course, Crash Mail.  Over the years I have been able to acquire a few items and this article and hopefully a semi-regular series in the Bulletin will cover some of those items.


There are some very interesting crash covers relating to the movies such as the Jan 16 1942 crash of a TWA aircraft near Las Vegas, Nevada.  This crash took the life of the famous movie star Carol Lombard.  (Figure 1).  Only eight of these covers are known from this crash.  I have always wondered who tabulates these numbers, but I have only been able to acquire two of them and have only seen one other.  The cover has the normal cachet.  I have never seen a Type a cachet – so I assume it is much scarcer.  Does anyone have any more knowledge about this crash?  See American Air Mail Catalogue (AAMC), 6th Edition, Volume 1, Interrupted Flights section.



Figure 1 - Cover from TWA Crash near Las Vegas, Nevada - AAMC # 420116


Others are addressed to Studios such as the Figure 2 Christmas card to Hal Roach Studios.  The National Air Transport crash was at Huron, Ohio on December 20, 1928.  The American Air Mail Catalogue catalog states: “Mail carried, 493 pounds, of which only a few pieces, badly burned, were recovered.”




Figure 2 - Cover to Hal Roach Studios - From National Air Transport Crash at Huron, Ohio - AAMC #281220


The theme of this article is to show the three crashes that I believe have generated the most crash mail to movie stars.


1.     The Jan 15, 1944 air crash or train wreck.  Its location is not known, but is most likely in the California area.  In an earlier article in La Posta (March 2003); I followed up Henry Berthelot’s earlier articles and I identified eight different types of markings for this crash.  Figures 3 and 4 show a couple of them.


I have mail from this crash to:


-      - Gene Autry (4)

-      - Lou Costello

-      - Bud Abbott and Lou Costello

-      - Deanna Durbin

-      - Martha O’Driscoll

-      - Donald O’Conner



Figures 3 & 4


2.     The Aug. 6 1948 train wreck at Terre Haute, Indiana.  Figures 5 and 6 show examples from this crash.



Figures 5 & 6


I have mail from this crash to:


-      - Deanna Durbin (9)

-      - Joan Crawford

-      - Donald O’Conner

-      - Errol Flynn (3)

-      - Robert Hutton (2)

-      - Dennis Morgan (2)

-      - Bud Abbott

-      - Yvonne De Carlo

-      - Warner Bros (2)

-      - Lauren Bacall


A fellow movie star mail collector has a similar number from this crash.


Figure 7 shows a portion of the news article covering the crash.  There do not seem to be any varieties in this marking.



Figure 7


3.     The third was a train wreck at Cadiz, Ca. in January 1960.  Figure 8 shows an example.  Most of the mail from this wreck that fits my collection was sent to Lawrence Welk.  One could argue that he does not fit the “movie star” definition but he was a major player in the entertainment world.


I have mail from this crash to:


-      - Lawrence Welk (13)

-      - ABC Studios (2)

-      - Lennon Sisters

-      - Diane Lennon

-      - Kate Smith




Figure 8



While I guess after seeing the number of “mail to the stars” crash items that I have encountered, I would have to judge POW Fan Mail to the Stars as being more elusive, but there is something about Crash Mail that makes it very attractive.  I guess that is why we are all members of this Society.  Any more information on any of these crashes or mail to stars/movie companies would be appreciated.




The Devil's Mail, by Dr. Steven Berlin






Nordic Air Crash Mail

By John Thiesen





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revised 28 Oct. 2014