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Ray Arizona
Ray, 1920. (Gary Spargo)

Ray Mines
Ray, today. (Bobby Zlatevski)

in the beginning ...

Thomas Lockyear Graeff was born on September 12, 1929, in Ray, Arizona. Only an open mine shaft and battered fortifications remain of the once booming town just south of Phoenix.

Shortly after his birth, Tom's father, George Aichroth Graeff, a draftsman working at the copper mine, and young mother, Grace Marie Lockyear, moved to California and settled in the comfortable town of Corona Del Mar in Orange County. In 1935 the family welcomed a second son, James.


Tom attended UCLA from 1948 to 1952, and was a member of the newly-formed Delta Chi fraternity there. He earned a degree in Theatre Arts, despite some academic difficulties, and focused his studies on filmmaking.

In Fall of 1951 Tom started work on his first film, a short entitled Toast to Our Brother, detailing fraternity life at Delta Chi. The film featured many of his Greek brothers, including cinematographer Austin McKinney.

Fox Theater, Westwood.

The film was well received and had a modest premiere on the night of December 18, 1951, at the landmark Fox theater in Westwood Village, with all proceeds going towards the St. Sophia Cathedral Building Fund.

Tom's ingenuity and comedic vision earned him a few nods from Hollywood, and the event was mentioned briefly in the Los Angeles Times due to a cameo by popular comedian (and UCLA alum) Joe E. Brown. Though Graeff wasn't mentioned by name, it was his first of many write-ups in the paper.

post-graduation and the Orange Coast College Story >>

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