William D. Cayton

Founded the company Radio and Television Packagers, Inc. and was Producer of "The Space Explorers" films. William "Bill" Cayton died in 2003 of lung cancer in Larchmont, N.Y. He was 85 years old.  He is often remembered as "Iron Mike" Tyson's boxing manager, and for amassing a huge fight-film collection, but he leaves behind a recently rediscovered animated "Sci-fi" film legacy as well.
 

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Cayton, who earned a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Maryland in 1937, began his half-century career in boxing as the owner of Cayton Inc., an advertising firm he founded in 1945. His advertising agency, Cayton, Inc., created The Greatest Fights of the Century in 1948 for Cheseborough Manufacturing Company (now Cheseborough-Ponds) to promote their product Vaseline Hair Tonic.

 

Film and Cartoon Productions: Companies:
  • Radio and Television Packagers, Inc.
  • Cayton Inc. Advertising (1957)
  • Cartoon Classics Inc.
  • The Big Fights Inc.
  • Cayton Sports Inc.
*   Nominated for an Oscar at the Acadamy Awards as "Best Documentary Features."
** The Ledgendary Champions was awarded the Gold Medal in the category "Sports Documentary."

Born in New York City, William Cayton earned a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland in 1937, and began a career as a technical writer for DuPont.

By 1945, he was running his own advertising agency, Cayton, Inc.

Cayton got involved in boxing four years later when a client, Chesebrough Manufacturing Co., asked for his help in promoting Vaseline Brand Hair Tonic for Men. He decided to use television advertising on sports events, recommending boxing because other larger team sports were not yet suitable for small-screen viewing.

In 1957, working with director and writer, Fred Ladd, Cayton produced short animated feature films entitled "The Space Explorers" followed shortly thereafter by "The New Adventures of the Space Explorers."

Cayton's cartoons were marketed under the name Cartoon Classics.   Bill Cayton also had a series of cartoons called AnimatoonsThere was also a film series called Jungle.  These were all marketed by Radio & Television Packagers, Inc., which owns the copyrights as well as the trademark Animatoons.

Later, Cayton began managing fighters in the mid-1970s along with his friend Jimmy Jacobs. After Jacobs died in March 1988, he managed Tommy Morrison, Jeremy Williams, Vinny Pazienza, and Michael Grant. A surprising anecdote about Jacobs was that he dominated the sport of Four-Wall Handball from l955 to l969, winning every match he played during that 15-year span.

Energetic and well-liked, Cayton was a fixture in the fight business for decades, managing world champions including "Iron Mike" Tyson, Wilfred Benitez and Edwin Rosario. But he was best known for co-managing Tyson with Jim Jacobs when the young heavyweight turned pro in 1984.

Big Fights Inc. was the brainchild of the late Bill Cayton and the late Jimmy Jacobs. In 1961 Jacobs merged his collection with Cayton's, who owned the "Greatest Fights of the Century". At the time, Cayton was a network television producer giving him access to many network fight telecasts. Together they formed a corporation called "The Big Fights Inc." to restore and preserve fight films. Big Fights Inc. produced over one thousand boxing features and documentaries. They were nominated for three Academy Awards, for "Legendary Champions," "The Heavyweight Champions," and "Jack Johnson." They also produced "The Fighters" which is a documentary of the first Ali-Frazier fight.  Big Fights Inc. had the largest library of boxing films in the world, with an estimated 16,000 films.

Jacobs died a few years later, and Tyson sued Cayton to sever their ties around the time Tyson knocked out Michael Spinks in 1988.   Fight promoter Don King took over as Tyson's promoter and boxing manager, and it was strongly suspected that King was behind the suit.  Cayton's partner, Jim Jacobs, became seriously ill with leukemia. He died a couple of days after Tyson, with new wife Robin Givens at ringside, had beaten challenger Tony Tubbs in Tokyo. Tyson had recently signed a new contract with his Cayton and Jacobs and in the event of Jacobs' death, Cayton would become sole manager.  Jacobs' widow would continue to receive her husband's portion of revenue earned. Givens, began to take a strong interest in Tyson's finances, telling him that not enough of his earnings were coming back to him. She alleged that Tyson had signed the contract with Cayton and Jacobs not knowing about Jacobs' condition. Meanwhile Don King, opportunistically attended Jacobs' funeral and began "wooing" the Tyson family supposedly with the intent to taking over Tyson's business affairs (to the benefit of himself).

Besides managing "Iron Mike” and others, Cayton had a large collection of fight films he began collecting in the 1940s, featuring legendary fighters such as Jack Dempsey, Jack Johnson and Gene Tunney.  His collection included the famous 1936 fight between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling at Yankee Stadium. Mr. Cayton sold his film and tape library in 1998 to Disney Corp., which features some (not all) of the titles on its ESPN Classic Sports network.

"He loved his work. He loved making deals," daughter Trish Cayton said. "Even as sick as he was, he was still working a day before he died."

"I love boxing. It's the most elemental of all sports, and the most exciting," Cayton said in a 1996 interview.

 


Courtesy of Radio & Television Packagers, Inc.

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(last updated 03/23/2008)