John Walter Bratton
|John Walter Bratton|
January 21, 1867|
New Castle, Delaware, U.S.A.
|Died||February 7, 1947
Brooklyn, New York U.S.A.
|Occupation||Composer and Theatrical Producer|
Raised by his grandmother, Mary Bratton, in New Castle, Delaware, near Wilmington, John Walter Bratton (sometimes spelled Bratten) was the son of John F. and Emma Bratton, of which little is known. He was educated at the Harkness Academy in Wilmington and later attended the Philadelphia College of Music before embarking on a career as a baritone singer.
John Bratton's career soon moved from performer to composer and producer. He began in the chorus of a show called Ship Ahoy for $18 a week and not before too long was selling songs written with his friend, lyricists Walter H. Ford, for as little as $10 a title. Over the years Bratton would collaborate on over 250 songs with Ford and Paul West. One of their earlier tunes was a tribute to veterans of the Spanish-American War called Hats off to the Boys Who Made Good, that years later Bratton conceded was "terrible". Today he is remembered for his composition Op103, dating from 1907, Teddy Bears' Picnic  the only one of his songs to be a lasting hit. Although most of his compositions had lyrics, he left Teddy Bears' Picnic as an instrumental. Perhaps because it sold so well as sheet music he never felt little need to do anything else with it except over the silent film ere as background music for a number of popular movies. Many years later British based, but Irish born Jimmy Kennedy wrote the lyrics. This explains why an American composition contains the British term “Mummies and Daddies" rather than "Mommies and Daddies”, though the latter does crop up from time to time in copies printed in the former colony. 
Tunes Bratton wrote that were popular in their day include The Sunshine of Paradise Alley (ca. 1895), Henrietta, Have You Met Her?, (ca. 1895) I love you in the Same Old Way, (ca. 1896) Isabella and In a Cosey Corner ( ca. 1901). As half of the firm Lefler and Bratton he produced the musical comedies Hodge Podge and Co. (1900), The Star and the Garter (1900), The Man from China (1904), The Pearl and the Pumpkin' '(1905) and others.
John Walter Bratton died at his Brooklyn home in February 1947, aged 80. He had just completed the song Time Brings Many Changes with his partner Leo Edwards, brother of song writer Gus Edwards. Bratton was survived by a wife and daughter.
Musical theater credits
- 1900 Hodge, Podge & Co.
- 1904 The Man From China
- 1905 The Pearl and the Pumpkin
- 1909 The Newlyweds and Their Baby
His songs were featured in many other musical comedies including The Rainmakers (1894), Star & Garter (1900), The Office Boy (1903), The Toreador (1904), The Rollicking Girl (1905), and The Merry-Go-Round (1908).
- 1880 US Census (Mary Bretten)
- The Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music: Composers and their Music, Volume 1 by William H. Rehrig, Robert Hoe 1991
- Bratton family history, "Appendix ... American John Walter Bratton, The Composer of Teddy Bears' Picnic (TBP)"
- The New York Times February 9, 1947
- International Lyrics Playground
- IBDb.com (John W. Bratton)
- Jon Bratton. "Bear Teddy".
- Jon Bratton. "Bratton Family History". Retrieved 2007-12-10. "APPENDIX John Walter Bratton (1867-1947)"