Ray Patterson, an animator, cartoon director and producer, whose seven-decade career began in the earliest days of sound film, and who contributed to some of the best loved animated films from the 1930s through the 1970s, died December 30, 2001, after a lengthy illness. He was 90.
Born November 23, 1911, in Hollywood, Patterson began his career in animation as a teenager in 1929, serving as an inker (one who inks the animation drawings onto clear cels) at the Charles Mintz Studio. By the late 1930s he was a full animator, and in 1939 he moved to the Walt Disney Studios, where he animated on many “Pluto” shorts and on the features “Fantasia” and “Dumbo.”
In 1941 he moved to the MGM animation studio, animating in the “Tom and Jerry” unit led by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. He was also responsible for the animation of Jerry Mouse in that character’s now-classic dance sequence with Gene Kelly in the 1945 feature “Anchors Aweigh.” Patterson spent much of 1945 and 1946 in England, helping to organize an animation studio for the J. Arthur Rank Organization, after which he returned to MGM. Among his more unusual projects there was the original “stick-figure” animated credit sequence for TV’s “I Love Lucy.”
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In 1954, Patterson left MGM in 1954 to open his own studio, Grantray-Lawrence Animation, along with animator Grant Simmons and producer Bob Lawrence, and concentrated on producing and directing animated commercials. The studio also subcontracted work for such television series as “Top Cat,” “The Jetsons” and “Mr. Magoo,” but its biggest hits came in the mid-sixties, with two series based on Marvel Comics characters: “Marvel Superheroes” and “Spider-Man,” which Patterson produced and, in the case of “Spider-Man,” directed.
Following the closure of Grantray-Lawrence in 1968, Patterson returned to animation for H-B, and also worked as a director for Fred Calvert Productions and Sanrio Productions. He rejoined Hanna-Barbera on an exclusive basis in 1976, and by 1985 was serving as Vice President in charge of Animation Direction for all the studio’s shows. In this capacity he worked on more than seventy-five series and dozens of TV movies, starring everyone from Yogi Bear to The Smurfs to the Go-Bots. In the process, Patterson earned twelve Emmy nominations, two Humanitas Awards, a Dove Award, an Angel Award and a Mentor Award. His credits also include the 1993 theatrical feature “Once Upon a Forest.”
Patterson officially retired in 1993, but continued to work occasionally for such TV shows as “Adventures From the Book of Virtues
Although he officially retired in 1993, Patterson continued to do occasional freelance work for such series as “Adventures From the Book of Virtues.” He was presented with a Golden Award from Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists in 1984, and in 1999 he received the Winsor McCay Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Field of Animation from the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood.
Patterson is survived by his wife and four daughters. Memorial service plans are pending.