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TV Studio Dedicated to Industry Pioneer
Kent McCray (foreground), his wife, Susan, and President Walter Harrison pose in the hallway of the newly dedicated Kent McCray Television Studio. The hallway contains an eight-panel retrospective of McCray's prolific career in television.
Sebby Sorrentino (foreground), director of Media Technology Services, and (l-r) Chief Information Officer George Brophy, Kent McCray, Susan McCray, and TV Studio Manager Dan McNamara.
McCray, a graduate of The Hartt School and an honorary regent, has donated and pledged a total of $100,000 to the television studio. The money will be used to purchase state-of-the-art field equipment and to begin converting the studio to high definition standards.
At a dedication ceremony attended by regents, university officials, and some of the students who will benefit from McCray’s generosity, the facility, located in the east wing of the Harry Jack Gray Center, was officially named the Kent McCray Television Studio.
McCray began his storied career as a producer during the early days of television in the 1950s, working on such legendary programs as the “Colgate Comedy Hour,” “The Red Skelton Show,” “The Ralph Edwards Show,” and “This is Your Life." He also worked as an associate producer with Bob Hope, accompanying the comedian on many of his overseas USO trips to entertain the troops.
In the early 1960s, McCray began a 30-year partnership with actor Michael Landon, and together they produced some of the most popular shows in television history, including “Bonanza,” “Little House on the Prairie,” and “Highway to Heaven.” McCray and his wife and business partner, Susan, who also is a regent and a generous supporter of the university, developed a very close friendship with Landon and his family. Landon died of cancer in 1991.
The respect and stature that McCray has earned in the television industry were evident in the congratulatory letters that were read at Thursday’s dedication ceremony. University President Walter Harrison and Susan McCray read letters that were sent for the occasion by actors Melissa Gilbert, Ernest Borgnine, and Merlin Olsen, as well as letters from McCray’s children, Michael Landon’s daughter, and Dennis Korn, CFO of Michael Landon Productions. Korn and his wife, Ligia, traveled from California to attend the TV studio dedication.
“I learned so much from you: work ethic, professionalism, humor, compassion, loyalty, integrity . . . invaluable life lessons that I will carry with me always,” wrote Melissa Gilbert, who starred in “Little House on the Prairie” as a child. Gilbert currently serves as president of the Screen Actors Guild.
“I am so proud to have been even a small part of your remarkable career,” Gilbert wrote. “I am even more proud to be your friend.”
As part of the TV studio dedication, the studio hallway is now lined with a colorful, eight-panel retrospective of McCray’s life and career. It begins with the McCray family history in Hartford, where Kent McCray’s father was a member of the management team at WTIC radio, and it ends with a quote from McCray about his long and prolific career in television:
“After 55 years in television, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have wanted to be in any other business. For me, it was, and is, a dream that came true.”