Graham Greene played Mr. Crabby Tree for some 13 episodes. At the time he was best known for his work in Dances With Wolves, for which he was nominated Best Supporting Actor in the Oscars in 1990. In 1992’s Thunderheart, Greene played—oddly enough—a gruff cop on an Indian reservation. He played a Rambo-type soldier named Cherokee in Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, Episode 2, “Wardogs.” But Dudley fans of all ages will forever remember him as the irascible tree whose bark covered a heart of … sap.
“With Mr. Crabby Tree, there was lots of ad-libbing and adding to the story,” Greene told The Lethbridge Herald. “We’d act really stupid until the kids came on set, and then have to settle down and act like adults.”
Executive producer Peter Williamson told The Vancouver Sun, “He really likes this job. He’s really enthusiastic. He actually phones us and says, ‘When are you shooting?'”
“I just love doing it,” Greene said to the Toronto Star after spending four hours in the rubber tree outfit. “You can be as broad and as cheap as you want to be. I can act out, go crazy . . . and I get recognized now. Not for Dances With Wolves or Die Hard 3, but as Mr. Crabby Tree.”
Seven years later, in 2005, Greene told an audience at Humber College, “I bust my tookus with all these major roles and they give me an award for being a goof in a tree costume. Two of them.”
Indeed, in 1994, Greene won a Gemini (the Canadian equivalent of the Emmy) for Best Performance in a Children’s or Youth Program or Series. He won again in 1998 for performing Crabby in the episode, “The Tiny Raincloud.”
For Greene’s 1994 victory, Williamson said, “I couldn’t resist it. I’ve told him it was the first time an actor has ever won an award for being wooden on stage.”
Sources: Bob Sokolsky, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, CA, June 26, 1995, “Dragon’s Show is Taken Off Endangered List,” p. B5; Greg Quill, Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario, June 1, 1997, “Dudley the Dragon Fires Up Cast and Crew Shooting Final Season of This Hit Children’s TV Series is Both an Art and a Business,” p. B8; Kathy Kasner, The Lethbridge Herald, December 4, 1994, “Letting the Genie Out of the Bottle,” p. 3; John McKay, The Vancouver Sun, June 29, 1996, “Dudley Does Right in U.S. Market,” p. C12.