George Albert Smith was born January 4, 1864 in Cripplegate, London.
He moved with his family to Brighton, where his mother ran a boarding house on Grand Parade, following the death of his father.
It was in Brighton in the early 1880s that George Smith first came to public attention touring the city as a stage hypnotist.
Then in 1892, George acquired the lease of the St. Anne’s Well Gardens in Hove from the estate of financier and philanthropist Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, which he cultivated into a popular pleasure garden, where in 1894 he began staging public exhibitions of hot air ballooning, parachute jumps, a monkey house, a fortune teller, a hermit living in a cave and magic lantern shows of a series of dissolving views.
George also began to present lectures at the Brighton Aquarium, where he had first performed as a hypnotist with Douglas Blackburn in 1882.
George attended the Lumière programme in Leicester Square in March of 1896 and was taken by the black and white films of Robert Paul.
George and a local chemist named James Williamson, acquired a prototype cine camera from local engineer Alfred Darling, who had begun to manufacture film equipment after carrying out repairs for Brighton-based film pioneer Esmé Collings.
By 1897, with the technical assistance of Alfred Darling and chemicals purchased from James Williamson, George Smith turned his pump house into a film factory for developing and printing successful commercial films as well as patenting a camera and projector system of his own.
In 1904, George moved to a new home in Southwick, Sussex dubbed his “Laboratory Lodge.”
It was here that he went on to develop the first successful color film process known today as Kinemacolor.
This new two-color (red-green) process was tested with early short films such as “Tartans of Scottish Clans” in 1906, and “Woman Draped in Patterned Handkerchiefs” in early 1908.
George then filmed in Kinemacolor his 8 minute “A Visit to the Seaside” at Brighton Beach in the spring of 1908 showing people doing everyday activities.
On May 1, 1908, he gave a trade demonstration of his new color film process and in September of 1908, George gave a trade showing of “A Visit to the Seaside.”
These were so widely accepted by the industry that on February 26, 1909, the first motion pictures exhibited in Kinemacolor were presented to a paying audience at the Palace Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue in London.
The first short film shown that day was George Smith’s “A Visit to the Seaside.”
The short film festival went on show another 20 films that day to the same audience.
His Kinemacolor process was first seen in the United States on December 11, 1909 at an exhibition staged by George Smith at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Kinemacolor influenced and was then replaced by Technicolor in 1916.
In his later life, George Smith became a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and in the late 1940s was rediscovered by the British film community, being made a Fellow of the British Film Academy in 1955.
George Smith died in Brighton on May 17, 1959 at the age of 95.
Now WE know em