Archive for Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Centron Corp. film producer Russell Mosser dies

May 10, 2011


Russell Alden Mosser

Russell Alden Mosser

Russell Mosser, a civic-minded film producer whose Centron Corporation operated in Lawrence for decades, died April 29 at age 93.

Born in Horton, he received bachelor’s and a master’s degrees from Kansas University before founding Centron Corporation with his business partner, Art Wolf.

The company produced films for education, corporations and government.

“Centron was Russ. Russ was Centron,” said Buck Newsom, a longtime friend who worked as a vice president for Centron.

The company operated from 1947 to 1981. During its heyday in the 1970s, it produced films for clients all over the country and used a fair amount of local talent in them, too, Newsom said.

“There probably wasn’t a kid in Lawrence that wasn’t in one of our films,” he said.

One documentary that the company produced, “Leo Beuerman,” told the story of a man who was 3 feet tall, deaf, nearly blind and unable to walk, but inspired many because of his determination.

The film was nominated for an Academy Award.

Lorene Mosser, Russ Mosser’s wife, said he enjoyed sports, and particularly enjoyed playing golf and spending time with his family.

“He was good with the children,” she said. “He loved his grandchildren and told them not to smoke and not to drink.”

She said her husband and his film company allowed her to meet all kinds of interesting people — everyone from Hollywood types in the red carpet ceremonies to a steeplechaser from England.

“There were just umpteen million stories,” she said.

He also was involved with the community. He served as a city commissioner, was involved with his church and service organizations and worked to raise funds for Lawrence Presbyterian Manor, where he would eventually move and lived until his death.

“He was a good behind-the-scenes guy,” Newsom said. “He didn’t take credit for anything.”

After Centron was sold, Charles and Hortense Oldfather donated money to KU so the university could buy the company’s building at 1621 W. Ninth St. Now known as Oldfather Studios, the building serves as a home for KU’s film department.

Mosser would have enjoyed that it was still being used to make films, Newsom said.

“I hope that the success of that business, the integrity of that business and the aura of that business will live on” through the work being done there today, Newsom said.

Memorial services are scheduled for 11 a.m. June 18 at First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt.


cato_the_elder 6 years, 9 months ago

Russ Mosser was an outstanding Lawrencian who made our community better. May he rest in peace.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 9 months ago

Do you know whether that includes the Coronet educational films that many of us were in, or just Leo Buerman and Carnival of Souls?

Kent Fisher 6 years, 9 months ago

I, too, appeared in a Centron film. My "role" included gluing pieces of paper together. I was about 7 or 8 years old at the time, and I believe I even collected a small check for my work. Norm Stuewe, Centron cinematographer, was our neighbor at the time.

Tyson Travis 6 years, 9 months ago

I was proud to be a member of the Centron family for many years. My mother, Trudy Travis, started out at Mosser-Wolf cameras (across from the Courthouse) in the late 1940s trimming show windows and selling cameras, then moved to the back where the fledgling Centron was starting out, first with educational filmstrips, then moving on to 8mm Young America films (I think she made the title eagle) and finally to 16mm, where she wrote many award-winning shows, including the Leo Beuerman production. I was one of the "Centron Kids" who acted and sang in many educational and commercial productions, I enjoyed working with Anita Bryant and Eddie Albert, but I was never any great shakes as an actor. Still, the movie business got into my blood as a child, and I was proud to be able to bring my parents into my post-production editing suite after Mom's retirement to view my efforts as a video producer for the US Air Force's C-130 training school. Thanks to Russ and Art for their efforts to bring high-quality movie production to Lawrence and their many other civic activities. I will always treasure my associations with them and the many other talented professionals who worked there. For an in-depth view of Centron, find a copy of the 1999 paperback "Mental Hygiene," and read the chapter on Centron starting on p.107. I imagine a copy of this can be found on EBay. Ty Travis, Pine Bluff, AR.

jayhawkjay 6 years, 9 months ago

i was fortunate to work as a Director at Centron. Russ and Art put together an incredibly talented team of people who truly enjoyed working with each other. Russ was a low key leader, What he and Art accomplished was simply amazing. Driving by the nondescript building on 1621 west ninth, you would not know that it housed a creative group of people who consistently produced award winning films year after year.

My favorite comment from Russ was when I was preparing to leave town to direct a film called "Energy Seekers". I went into his office and asked him what the budget was for the film. He looked and me and said "don't worry, you're already over budget". It was Russ's dry humor at work.

I miss Centron every day. I was one of the lucky ones to call myself a centroner.

Thanls Russ, you'll be missed.

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