Friday, 25 November 2011

100 Years - Ray Patterson! (Belated)

by Steven Hartley.

On the November 23rd, it would be exactly 100 years since Ray Patterson was born, he died in 2001 on December 30th and could've lived another 10 years to celebrate. I am going to make a tribute about Ray Patterson with his work on animation that he worked on, I'll include some personal information on Ray, and also some animation scenes that he animated on through my knowledge..

Here is a picture of Ray Patterson. Probably taken around the 1930's at some dress-party.

Raymond Shepard Patterson was born on November 23, 1911 in the Los Angeles County to the parents of Searles William Patterson (7/29/1882-3/29/1960) and Marlon Leslie Shepard (10/16/1886-1/9/1976). He had two brothers, one older named Donald W. Patterson (born 26 December 1909 in Illinois), you guessed it - it's animator Don Patterson who later became a famous animator for Disney, Walter Lantz and Hanna-Barbera. 

His first animation career started at the Charles Mintz Studios in 1929 when he was only 18. He stayed at the Mintz Studios for roughly eight or nine years, where he worked as an inbetweener and ink and painter. Eventually he became an animator and character designer. Below are some drawings that Ray did at the Mintz studios (not mine, but courtesy of the ASIFA-Hollywood Archives site):

At around 1938, he then left the Mintz Studios, where he finally got a job as an animator at the Walt Disney Studios where he was working on features like Fantasia and Dumbo where he got screen credit in both those films. He arrived in roughly 1939, and his brother Don Patterson must've been around at Disney a year earlier, when he would be busy working on Pinocchio animating cuckoo clocks, and Pinocchio and Gepetto in the raft. He didn't animate very much at Disney, and he certainly wasn't there for very long at all, but he has contributed to some animated scenes. He seemed to have paired up with Grant Simmons at Disney, (they later became partners years later). Ray animated some scenes of the elephants in the "Dance of the Hours" section in Fantasia here is the sequence to find his only scenes.

He also worked on a Donald Duck cartoon called Truant Officer Donald and there is a scene of what he animates:

Here Ray Patterson animates on the 0:56 mark up to the 1:49 mark.

Here, on Dumbo - Ray contributed to the film with some great animation. His most notable animation on that film was on the clowns in the fire brigade act. Skip to the act where you see animation of clowns in the fire brigade performance. Ray did a lot of work on that sequence, Grant Simmons worked on that, too. Ray Patterson's scenes there includes the introduction scenes of the clowns in the fire engine and they all scramble in panic, and the small clown climbing up a tiny ladder and trips. One of his greater scenes in that sequence, is the clown up a ladder and roasting a sausage by a flaming fire. He did more animation on the clowns later on. His animation was identical to his MGM animation, and he was just a cartoony animator in the Disney films, when usually it was all personality and emotions.

Around that time, Ray Patterson was married in 1940 to a lady named Antoinette (surname unknown), they were married in 1940, but unfortunately they were divorced in 1942 after only two years. He did eventually remarry in 1946 to a June Walker (?) the marriage lasted longer, but only for about six years. He at least had a daughter named Kim, but date is unknown.

There is an interesting part about Ray Patterson in a Walt's People - Volume 9 in a Art Scott interview where during Ray's time at Disney, their wives would be working late at the ink and paint department working on Bambi and that Ray and Art would play badminton - and both of them even played a match against Walt Disney and Ham Luske. Art said about Ray as a very skilled badminton player. Here is a snippet on what Artie said about Patterson:

Ray Patterson had been an animator there, at the old Mintz Studio. Another one from that group that was there was Fred Abrams [Is that Ray Abrams who worked for Tex Avery?] He's an animator here. And Hal Ambro, who was an inbetweener. He and I were inbetweeners together. And he became assistant there, and then we went on to Disney's together. And Ray went on to Disney. He and I were at Disney together.
In fact, one time when we were there we were still at the old Hyperion studio, and he and I used to play badminton a lot together. We were over waiting for our wives, because our wives were working in the Painting Department, so they were working late because they were finishing Bambi or something...Anyway, they were working late, So we went on a soundstage to play badminton. He and I were hitting the bird back and forth, and who should walk in but Walt Disney. Of course, we were a couple of new guys there and we were using this stage. It was Walt and Ham Luske and their wives, and they were there for an evening of badminton, and here these two clods are out there...(laughs).
So Walt, being magnanimous with this couple of guys there, let their wives sit out, and said, "Why don't you join us?" So the wives watched while Ray and I played Ham Luske and Walt Disney. Not because I was any good, because I was hardly a player at all, but Ray was excellent, Ray was a fantastic player. And we ripped them. Ray, the day after he goes, "Do you think we ought to have done that?"
 The story finishes with Walt Disney and Ham Luske beating them at the badminton, but Ray was close to beating them. The text is a courtesy from Didier Ghez, and John Culhane's interview in Walt's People - Volume 9.

Ray's stint at Disney only lasted about two years, and he was involved in the Disney animator's strike in 1941, and he was one of the many animators who were laid off. Ray later found other animation jobs, he spent roughly a year at Screen Gems in 1942, and finally he moved to MGM in 1943 where he would remain there for roughly a decade working on many Tom and Jerry cartoons for Hanna-Barbera, and he has contributed to so many great animation there which I will go through and I will identify some of his scenes.

Ray's animation back around 1943-1947 is quite easy to identify, and he had a lot of details in his scenes. He was particularly great for acting scenes. He always gave Tom freckles and an upper lip, and he gave Ray a pouty lip as his trademark that no animator had ever done before. Although, when it came to movement, his animation was rather stiff compared to Ken Muse, Irv Spence or Pete Burness - but it really worked and did the job well. He gave his facial expressions for the character (if it was smiling) in a rather gummy and funny way - it wasn't as appealing as Ken Muse would handle it, but Ray did make the facial expressions look very cartoonie and very funny, but Ray's facial expressions also had character, and he looked like Ray used a lot of caricature on Tom. He wasn't very loose in the early forties, but after his year stay at England, he arrived back in 1948 and his animation became looser, and made a big change. Here, I will show you some scenes by Ray Patterson that are worth studying and memorable:

Here in Mouse Trouble Ray animates the first traps that Tom plots to try and get Jerry by using different booby traps. He animates from the 1:00 mark and continues up to 1:58, and that's all he animated on. In the mousetrap scene, he gives Jerry weight when he uses much of his strength to get the piece of cheese off, and managed to without even being snapped. Tom's eyes widen (a great 'take' by Ray) and he touches his fingers, in which he is pinched from the mousetrap - that is just bad luck for Tom.

In the hilarious Tom and Jerry cartoon Flirty Birdy (animated by Ken Muse, Irv Spence and Ray Patterson), Ray did manage to get some great scenes on his own. He animated the opening scenes of which Tom picks pieces of cheese all lined up, as a booby trap so Jerry gets caught in a sandwich. Here in this mark, Ray handles 0:25-0:53 including the scene where Tom's teeth crash together and fall apart - which is priceless. Ray Patterson comes back later on animating 3:42 and up to 4:40. 3:42 with the buzzard's take on Tom's eyelash seducing him, is just hilarious timing and a hilarious expression. Ray went very extreme with that pose and it works very well - I don't think this could've been done better, and the casting was very good. Ken Muse was known for his on-model type-animation (rather Disney looking), and Irv Spence was great for his wacky scenes in which there was little detail in the scenes.

Here, Ray Patterson animates the entire opening of the classic Quiet Please and he does some outstanding animation here. The opening is just wonderful animation (probably my favorite Patterson animation), and it involves Spike the bulldog trying to take a nap while sleeping, but he gets rather disturbed in which Tom is trying to hit Jerry with a frying pan, but hits Spike by mistake and runs off. Spike then has a gesture on his face "Oh well", and continues sleeping - but is disturbed again with gun sounds, and Tom uses his head as a base to aim his gun to Jerry. Spike gets even more annoyed, and yet again hears more sounds with Tom holding an axe and trying to chop Jerry. Luckily, Tom is holding the axe the wrong way and he keeps hitting Spike in the axe. You can tell on the look of Spike's face that he is going to murder Tom any second, until he finally stands up and gives Tom a yelling. In fact, I will break down this entire short to show you what the others did, and since this is one of my true favourites.

0:22-1:41: Ray Patterson
1:42-3:08: Irv Spence
3:09-5:06: Ken Muse
5:07-5:29: Ed Barge
5:30-5:39: Irv Spence
5:40-6:06: Ed Barge
6:07-6:23: Ken Muse
6:24-6:56: Irv Spence
6:57-7:11: Ken Muse

After 1945, Ray Patterson disappeared in the credits from 1946 and 1947 - but he did in fact do animation on those cartoons throughout 1946-1947, but just remained uncredited (the same with Pete Burness). Ray Patterson did leave MGM in 1946 to go to England where he went with Dave Hand, Ralph Wright and John F. Reed to teach British men on how to animate the way they do it. Ray stayed in England for roughly a year before his return, but he didn't do very much work on the cartoons.

Ray's (uncredited) animation in Solid Serenade:
0:32-1:15: Ray Patterson
4:15-4:36: Ray Patterson

Yes, Kenneth Muse did in fact animate the famous Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby  song score of Tom playing the double bass, but I won't go too much in there. Ray Patterson did the introduction shots again, but he did some great animation on Tom's plot on how to get to the orchard since "Killer" the bulldog is guarding the house. I really like how Ray animated that shot of Spike's teeth hit the tree, this vibration of timing he did was one of his trademark. Whenever Ray animated a character that hit a wall, he would animate the characters vibrating slightly after hitting a wall, and then stay stiff.

Here is a great scene that Ray Patterson animated from 4:44 to 5:19 in the cartoon Cat Fishin' - you can tell on how Tom vibrates when he whacks Spike in the rear end, and also don't forget the details that he adds in the characters.

During Ray's time in the UK, he was training a lot of British animators on how to animate better, as they weren't very professional with their jobs and needed help from the Americans. Ray stayed in England for a short time, and there is a web page that speaks briefly about Ray in Moor Hall, England.

Here is Ray Patterson at his time in England. Photo courtesy of Moor Hall site. Date unknown.

Ray Patterson returned to MGM full-time again in 1948 where he would continue to work on many more Tom and Jerry cartoons. Since the characters have changed through model sheets, Ray's animation was much more different. He didn't go much through detail, but he still had the upper lips in his animation, and he also draw his characters with larger mouths, and the characters weren't caricatured as Ray used to do it in 1943-1947 - with the pouty mouth and freckles, it was caricatured differently - sometimes Tom's muzzle made him look like an ape.

Here is a great cartoon Tennis Chumps with some great animation by Ray Patterson. He handles 1:27-2:04 where he animates the tennis game getting started as it gets more violent. He did a great job with how the game was warming up, and then it gets heavier. Ray Patterson also comes back on 2:38 and up to 3:37 where he animates Jerry taking both sides of the cat, by using different objects that look like tennis balls. Some very look acting scenes here, and I love how Tom breaks into pieces.

In Texas Tom, Ray Patterson got a sequence to himself, and he animated the If You're Ever Down in Texas (Look Me Up) song where he did all the sequence to himself, (the scenes where Jerry changes the pitches is by Ken Muse, but Ray animated Jerry being hit on the head from Tom's guitar). Ray's animation lasts up to the 4.05 mark.

In Tom and Jerry at the Hollywood Bowl Ray Patterson was the star animator on that short. He did the mammoth work on that cartoon (so did Kenneth Muse), but Ray got the best acting scenes to do. He animated the entire introduction at the 0:44 and up to the 1:24 mark, where he animated Tom who seemed like a professional conductor - Ray steps off for a short while, with Ed Barge taking over for a bit. He came back again on the 1:50 mark, and finished at 2:26 with Kenneth Muse taking over for roughly a minute and a half with Irv Spence animating Tom being wheeled away from the orchestra and run over by a bus - Ed Barge did a great scene after the bus scene, of Jerry's shirt being ripped, and clashed by one of the orchestra members with the cymbals. Ray Patterson came back again on the 5:48 mark where he animates the orchestra falling down a hole after Jerry sawing the members. Kenneth Muse then animated the finale of that sequence, and I believe that's all for Ray in that short. So, Ray (in my opinion) was the best animator on that short.

In Jerry's Cousin Ray didn't get much at all to work on this cartoon, but he did do a great sequence from 1.42 up to 2.29 (Ed Barge does Tom in a vase scene), and there is great exaggeration on Tom's face when Muscles places a dynamite in Tom's mouth. Ray comes back again at 5.53 up to 6.10.

This is all the information about Ray Patterson that I can provide for you, and I hope this is an example of his great work he's done. It might not be very much he animated on shorts in terms of footage, but he has done some very challenging scenes to do, and acting scenes. Ray Patterson stayed at MGM until 1953/1954 and he left, to form his own company with Grant Simmons - Grantray-Lawrence Studios where it ran from 1954-1967 and they made a lot of Superhero shows. but he did work at UPA for a short while, on the film Gay-Pur-ee.

With his colleague, Grant Simmons; the company was a low-budget studio and they mostly made commercials, but they did contribute to the Spider-Man series in which the popular theme song was in there, and probably their famous piece of work. The song was later parodied in the Simpsons Movie.

Ray Patterson at the GrantRay studios turned in a lot of projects, but some pretty awful material that he turned out was The Marvel Super Heroes and it was based on Marvel superheroes such as the Incredible Hulk, Captain America, etc. You can see the introduction and closing credits to one of them. The animation is horrible, and in Zartok-35's words, "Everything is WRONG with that animation." Of course, I don't think Ray had much involvement in those shows, but he was the producer and he had the crew's wishes to work on awful material.

Since he formed the studio, it meant that he was able to freelance at other studios such as UPA, or Walter Lantz. He worked at Hanna-Barbera in the 1960's, and he was an animator on Hey There, it's Yogi Bear! (I don't know what he animated), and he did some animation on The Flintstones. In fact, he remained at Hanna-Barbera up to around the early 1990's when he fully retired.

Ray Patterson was pretty active throughout the 1980's, when he was directing a lot of shows, but some of them were pretty awful - such as those crummy TV shows such as Tom and Jerry Kids and Yo Yogi! He paired up with animator Don Lusk who was a veteran in the animation industry. Don Lusk later said that he felt he owed a lot to Ray Patterson for helping him find jobs, and even at Hanna-Barbera. Ray Patterson was even directing some of the Scooby-Doo films such as Scooby-Doo and the Curse of the Werewolf and Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School.

Ray Patterson was the Vice President of Hanna-Barbera up to around 1993, when he officially retired. He was dedicated in a Simpsons episode Trash of the Titans when the character named Ray Patterson was voiced by Steve Martin. Ray died on December 30, 2001 in Encino, California.

Well done Ray Patterson, you've had some great career in animation - and you're pretty underrated in the animation industry, but I know that your animation is deeply appreciated not only by animation fans, but the public too, who've watched your animation in cartoons and appreciated them.

It's also sort of my special article that I've written since I've been absent for a very long time, and I hope that you will enjoy this very lengthy piece that I've done. Of course, Zartok-35 did write a short post about Ray Patterson, and he was supposed to write a bit in this article but he did it differently, in which I've posted by version.

2 comments:

Yowp said...

Among the accomplishments of Grantray-Lawrence were two shorts for Walter Lantz, "Dig That Dog" and "Broadway Bow-Wows," a couple of pretty good cartoons.

I would not say they were a "low budget studio" (and you're paraphrasing Didier Ghez who says they were "producing low budget cartoons"; the two don't mean the same thing). There's no sign any of their commercial work in the '50s or '60s was low-budget (their AC Spark Plug commercials in 1961 received industry praise).

Gene Hazelton was their creative supervisor for a time (by 1957) and so was (in 1956) Gene Dietch, through Robert Lawrence Productions in New York.

Steven Hartley said...

Didier Ghez didn't say that the GrantRay Lawrence Studio was a low-budget place in the interview.