Roy Leighton Budd was born on December 12, 1872 in Elyria, Ohio. His father, James H. Budd, was born 1845 in New York of Irish ancestry.
The father's family had moved to Ohio in 1860 to start a business supplying animal hides to an eastern manufacturer. During the American Civil War the father served as a private in Company G of the 101st Ohio Infantry, and was wounded in battle.
After the war the father returned to his family business, where he worked until 1871, when he married Helen A. Deney. She was born 1854 in Ohio, and was also of Irish ancestry. They had one child, Roy "Rollo" Leighton Budd (b.1872). The father then left his family business, and instead became a restaurant keeper. They lived at 244 Third Street in Elyria, Ohio.
In 1886, at the age of fourteen, Roy Leighton Budd completed the Eighth Grade, after which he left schooling and entered the work force. He worked in the printing department of the Elyria Reporter newspaper, where he became interested in a career as a commercial artist. The older artists on the staff gave him free instruction in basic art skills.
In September of 1892, at the age of nineteen, Roy Leighton Budd left his home in Elyria and moved to New York City to study at the Art Students League.
On July 1, 1893 the "Local News" section of The Elyria Reporter announced, "Roy Budd, who has been attending an Eastern Art School, is home for his summer vacation."
In 1894 Roy Leighton Budd was employed as a full-time staff artist at The New York Herald.
On May 31, 1895, the father, James H. Budd, died at the age of fifty in Ohio. After this death the mother received a government stipend as a Civil War widow. She earned extra income as a local dressmaker, and advertised her service in the local newspaper.
In 1900 R. Leighton Bud, age twenty-seven, was listed in the U.S. Census as a resident at 34 West 30th Street in New York City. His occupation was identified as an "artist illustrator."
On December 5, 1900 the Elyria Reporter announced, "Mr. Roy Budd of New York City is visiting his mother, Mrs. H. A. Budd, of Third Street for two weeks over the holidays."
In 1901 Roy Leighton Budd became a regular contributor to the humor magazine, Puck.
In 1906 "The Tumble Brothers" by Leighton Budd became a syndicated newspaper comic strip in The New York Herald, where it appeared at the same time as Winsor McCay's "Little Nemo In Slumberland."
The 1905 New York State Census listed Leighton Budd as age thirty-two, residing at 18 West 30th Street. He was employed as an art instructor at the Art Students League.
Over the next ten years he was a regular contributor to Judge, The Century, Harper's Magazine, and Scribner's Magazine. His work also appeared in St. Nicholas, the juvenile magazine. At that time the art editor at St. Nicholas was Norman Rockwell.
In 1916 Leighton Budd began to work as an art director at Bray Studios, located at 23 East 26th Street in Manhattan. It was one of the world's first motion picture studios that only produced animated cartoons. Bray Studios employed Louis M. Glackens (1866-1933), Johnny Gruelle (1880-1938), Max Fleischer (1883-1972). Pat Sullivan (1885-1933), Paul Terry (1887-1971), Milt Gross (1895-1953), Jack King (1895-1958), and Walter Lantz (1899-1994).
In 1916 the U.S. Army fought the Mexican Border War. The National Guard was activated for Federal service and stationed along the Mexican border to defend against raiding parties from Pancho Villa (1878-1923), the Mexican revolutionary commander. In support of this national crisis, the Bray Studios produced a series of patriotic animated movies, three of which were created by Leighton Budd. The movies were widely popular and distributed by Paramount.
From 1917 to 1919, during the Great War, the Bray Studios again produced patriotic movies. This time Leighton Budd made eleven short animated cartoons of patriotic themes. He also produced training and educational films for the U.S. Army. In 1918 Roy Leighton Budd reported for draft registration. He was recorded to have been age forty-four, and employed at Bray Studios to produce special cartoons for "the U.S. Government."
During the roaring twenties Leighton Budd illustrated advertising that appeared in newspapers and magazines.
In 1930 Leighton Budd (age fifty-eight) lived with his mother (age seventy-five) in Brooklyn at 156 Elliott Place. He never married.
In 1935 Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson (1890-1968) produced some of the earliest American comic books to feature original material, such as New Fun and More Fun. The artists who drew the features included Adolphe Barreaux, Henry C. Kiefer, Cole Brigham, Lyman Anderson, Ray Wardell, Joe Archibald, and Clem Gretter. The publishing company was named National Allied Publications, and was located at 49 West 45th Street. August 1935 was the cover date of New Fun Comics #5, which included "Midsummer Day's Dream" by Leighton Budd. The four-panel strip was actually not original. It was a re-print of a 1906 appearance of the Tumble Brothers."
On December 18, 1935 Albert Stevens Crockett wrote and published "Old Astoria Bar Days," which featured cocktail recipes, witty historic anecdotes, and humorous illustrations by Leighton Budd.
In 1937 the artist's mother, Helen A. Budd, died at the age of eighty-two in Brooklyn.
On April 26, 1938 Leighton Budd was granted a patent for a device that helped artists to depict characters. Two years later he received a second patent for an improved version of his device.
On November 3, 1939 The New York Sun gossip columnist Malcolm Johnson reported that "For authentic flavor of old England, combining the mellow charm of the ancient English tavern with the lusty cuisine of the red-faced, hearty, medieval beef-eaters, we recommend the Boar's Head Inn, at forty-seventh street and Lexington Avenue, which was opened recently by August Janssen, one of New York's best known restaurateurs. He has done everything he could, in decor, cuisine and service, to provide a nostalgic spot for lovers of the old-fashioned English Inn. Leighton Budd, whose drawings appeared in Puck for many years, and who has been associated with Mr. Janssen for ages, has been in charge of the restoration of the Boar's Head Inn and has painted a four-panel mural depicting a boar hunt and feast in the legendary days of Robin Hood."
On August 6, 1941 The New York Post dining columnist, Richard Manson, reported that the Boar's Head Inn at Lexington and 47th Street was an English chop house, with a cafe bar and mezzanine dining room. Heraldic shields, stained glass windows, antique mugs, and murals by Leighton Budd of a boar hunt make up the decorations. There's also poetry on the walls, affording plenty of atmosphere. Dinners begin at $1.25 and run to $1.80. Specialties of the house are broiled English Mutton chop with a baked potato, $1.75. Prime ribs of beef with Yorkshire pudding $1.30. Steak and kidney pie, $1. Drinks are 35 cents and up."
On May 1, 1953 nationwide newspapers reported, "This week Leighton Budd of New York City patented a Headrest For Cosmetic Mask. The plan is for the beauty seeker to lie on her tummy with her face on a small blanket that is supported by a framework with a hole for her mouth and nose. Mr. Budd explains his boon to the fairer sex thus, 'In massaging the face to aid age-sagging facial tissue, the flesh is moved upward smoothly with the finger tips to its youthful place. Afterwards it is necessary that the tissues be held in the raised position for a length of time.' The Budd invention 'will enable the person to relax and be refreshed for activities while the corrected facial tissues mend in the position the massage has placed them."
Roy Leighton Budd died at the age of eighty-nine in Brooklyn, on October 5, 1962.
© David Saunders 2017