Obituaries : John A. Stransky Jr.; Pioneer Sound Engineer


John A. Stransky Jr., a pioneering sound engineer who recorded dozens of classical musicians, television shows and films, has died. He was 91.

Stransky, whose career spanned 40 years, died of pancreatic cancer March 22 at Woodland Hills Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills.

Born June 19, 1904, in Pukwana, South Dakota, Stransky developed an interest in electronics at an early age. His parents owned the local telephone company, and by the time Stransky was a teenager, he was dismantling and reassembling telephones.


After a short stay in Chicago during his teens, Stransky moved to Los Angeles, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from USC in 1928.

As a young electrical engineer, Stansky learned how to install the equipment that would usher motion pictures into the sound era, according to his son-in-law, Edwin Stauss of Woodland Hills.

During the day, Stransky and the other engineers would build the sound systems; at night--after the silent films had ended--they would install them.

“It was like the Internet is now,” said Stauss, in describing the era. “They had special companies that would send him [Stransky] around to make sure the theaters produced sound correctly.”

Before long, Stransky, who was known as “Skee” among his colleagues, had helped organize a union--local 695 of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE)--and the Cinema Audio Society.

During the 1950s, Republic Studios hired Stransky to record television and film projects featuring Dale Evans and Roy Rogers, as well as Gene Autry.


His stint at Republic led to Stransky being named the chief sound engineer for RCA Red Label recordings of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. The recordings featured a variety of classical artists, including Vladimir Horowitz, Jascha Heifitz, Mario Lanza, Aaron Copland and Arturo Rubinstein.

In the early 1960s, Stransky received a nomination from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for outstanding achievement in sound mixing for “My Sweet Charlie.”

Stransky ended his career in 1970 after a 10-year stint as head rerecording mixer at Universal Studios.

After his official retirement, Stransky spent seven years as the official photographer for the La Brea Tar Pits in addition to working with Recording for the Blind.

Stransky is survived by his daughter, Jane Stauss of Woodland Hills; his son, John E. Stransky of Longmont, Colo.; four granddaughters and five great grandchildren.

There will be a private funeral service in Colorado.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Motion Picture & Television Fund, 23388 Mulholland Drive, Woodland Hills 91364.