Raymond “Ray” Patterson
Raymond PattersonOccupation / Title:
23/11/1911Date of death:
Ray Patterson was an Emmy nominated animator, cartoon director, producer, most noted for his work in the 40′s during the “golden age” of animation on the legendary Tom and Jerry cartoon series, as well as animating with Tex Avery.
Ray was the older brother of animator Don Patterson who also worked at various studios during the “golden age”. Patterson’s seven-decade long career started while he was a teenager, where he got into the industry through Charles Mintz hiring him as a inker for Krazy Kat/Screen Gems Studio.
After a decade later of working for Mintz, where he became a full animator by the 30′s, Patterson left to work for Walt Disney Studios, where he worked on the Pluto cartoon shorts, and animated full-length feature films such as Fantasia (1940) and Dumbo (1941). Patterson left in 1941 during the Disney’s animator’s strike, and after leaving for Columbia Pictures in the beginning of the 40′s, Patterson was recruited by MGM later that year. He was assigned to the Hanna-Barbera unit where he inked the Tom and Jerry cartoons, staying for over 12 years, working occasionally for the Tex Avery or the Dick Lundy unit.
Patterson served as the primary animator on the majority of the MGM cartoon shorts until 1954, including several Academy Award-winning Tom and Jerry shorts. In 1945, Patterson animated the cartoon sequence featuring Jerry for the now-classic live-action and animation Gene Kelly film Anchors Aweigh.
With the aid of Hanna and Barbera’s direction, Patterson helped create the original “stick figure” animation in the sequence credits for TV’s I Love Lucy in 1951. This development had to be done in secrecy, as the production team Hanna-Barbera were afraid of the studio’s disapproval towards the growing medium of television, which they had to compete against.
In addition, Patterson worked on MGM’s Barney Bear cartoon series from 1952-53, and then worked closely with Tex Avery animating all of his cartoons with MGM until his departure. Many of these cartoons were Academy Award nominated, including Little Johnny Jet (1953), and episodes of the Droopy cartoons such as The Three Little Pups (1953), Drag-A-Long Droopy (1954)
In 1954, Patterson teamed up with Grant Simmons, and Bob Lawrence, former MGM co-workers, founded their company Grantray-Lawrence Animation. Grantray-Lawrence produced many commercials and their early work included the original “Winston Tastes Good” cigarette campaign, as well as producing cartoon shorts for Walter Lantz.
In the 60′s, Patterson freelanced on various television series and feature films in Hollywood productions, including for Hanna-Barbera Production’s Top Cat (61-62), as well as working on The Jetsons, and Yogi Bear. With UPA, Patterson worked on the feature length cartoon Gay Purr-ee(1962), while directing The Dick Tracy Show cartoon series.
During this time, Grantray-Lawrence began producing animations for television. Some of the work Patterson produced included Marvel Superheroes through his company, with the Marvel Comics characters, and directed the first season of the cartoon Spider-Man. In 1968, the studio closed due to bankruptcy.
Patterson directed in 1970 the MBC special Uncle Sam Magoo, and then worked on Hanna-Barbera’s next feature cartoon, Charlotte’s Web (1973). He worked as well on the controversial, and deemed by many to be racist Coonskin in 1975, an American animated film about an African American rabbit, fox and bear who all rise to the top of the organized crime chain in Harlem. Patterson also worked as a sequence director for Sanrio Films’ Metamorphoses (1978), a Japanese anthology film retelling stories by the Roman poet Ovid.
Rejoining Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1976 on a full time basis, Patterson had his own unit and oversaw the production of ABC morning specials such as The All-New Super Friends Hour (77-78). He directed many other Saturday morning cartoons including The All-New Popeye Hour, Scooby and Scrappy-Doo (1979-80), as well as The Flintstones and Yogi Bear specials.
In 1985, Patterson served as the vice president in charge of animation direction, as well as the supervising director of Hanna-Barbera Productions. He worked on cartoons such as The Smurfs (1981-90), Pink Panther and Son (1984-85), The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones (1987), and his last credit with the company was Once Upon a Forest, released in 1993. Patterson retired later that year.
Through his many-decades long career, Patterson earned twelve Emmy nominations, the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists’ Golden Award, and the Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement from ASIFA.
Patterson died of natural causes after a long illness in 2002, on December 30th in his Encino, California home.
Honors and awards
- Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists’ Golden Award
- Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement from ASIFA.
Lenburg, Jeff. Who’s Who in Animated Cartoons: An International Guide to Film & Television’s Award-Winning and Legendary Animators. New York: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, 2006. Print.