John Patterson is as far from New York and Hollywood as you can get. Yet somehow the biggest names in the film and TV business found him, in tiny Winter Haven, Florida.
During the "Golden Age of Television," a lot of what people saw on the tube was created by Patterson, especially commercials: the "takes a lickin but still tickin" Timex watch; Anita Bryant's cheery pitch for Florida orange juice; Willie Nelson singing and sporting Wrangler jeans.
Patterson first honed his craft working at the old Cypress Gardens, which became an exotic tropical attraction for directors and celebrities.
"Cypress Gardens was on almost every television set and in almost every feature film," Patterson said during a leisurely interview at his Winter Haven studio.
Patterson made contacts and deals with Hollywood heavyweights, including Florida's newest resident—Walt Disney.
"I had the privilege of meeting both Walt and Roy Disney, going over things before they first started Disney World," Patterson said.
The walls of his studios are covered with photos of famous people. There's Vincent Price, Michael Richards who played Kramer in "Seinfeld," and a who's who of entertainment.
Patterson is considered a pioneer here in the Sunshine State.
"I built the studio, because back when I started there was nothing here in the state of Florida where you could rent the equipment and process your own film," Patterson recalled.
For his work as a photographer and director, the trade group Film Florida honored the 77-year-old Patterson with its Legends Award.
"It was an achievement award and I didn't have to die to get it," Patterson said with a humble chuckle.
And forget retirement. He has no plans to quit the set. Just like his famous Timex watch commercials, John Patterson just keeps ticking along.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
Didn't find what you were looking for?