John Randolph Bray
Animator, Film producer
1879 – 1978
Who was John Randolph Bray?
John Randolph Bray was an American animator. He produced the second animated film in color, The Debut of Thomas Cat, in Brewster Color, developed by Percy D. Brewster of Newark, New Jersey. Bray Productions produced over 500 films between 1913 and 1937, mostly animation films and documentary shorts. Cartoonist Paul Terry worked briefly for Bray Studios in 1916.
The entertainment branch of Bray Pictures Corporation closed in 1928. Documentary production for theatrical release continued through the late 1930s. The educational and commercial branch, Brayco, made mostly filmstrips from the 1920s until it closed in 1963. Bray Studios was still in operation in the 1970s, shortly before Bray died at the age of 99 in 1978.
Jam Handy's company, the Jam Handy Organization, began as a Chicago-Detroit division of Bray Studios, to service the auto industry's need for industrial films. Jam Handy made several thousand industrial and sponsored films and tens of thousands of filmstrips, many for the auto industry, closed in 1983.
Bray visited Winsor McCay during his production of Gertie the Dinosaur and claimed to be a journalist writing an article about animation. McCay was very open about the techniques that he developed and showed all the details to Bray. John Randolph Bray later patented many of McCay's methods and unsuccessfully tried to sue the other animator; McCay prevailed, however, and received royalties from Bray for several years thereafter.
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