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Our History

John Tracy, son of two actors Spencer and Louise Tracy, was born June 26, 1924.  When John was 10 months old, his mother became alarmed when he did not react when a door accidently slammed shut.

"I stopped suddenly.... I stood motionless beside his crib. I called his name again -- and then I shouted it. He slept on. And so, I discovered our baby was deaf."

The diagnosis came back as a profound hearing loss, of unknown origin.  Louise Treadwell Tracy decided to devote her time and energy in studying how deaf children could be taught to communicate. She patiently guided her son, John, and with her encouragement, he not only learned to communicate, but he thrived.

"We went right on talking to Johnny, singing to him, telling him nursery rhymes, and as it turned out, that was just the right thing to do," Louise once said, according to a 1983 LA Times story.

Years later, once John was grown, Mrs. Tracy responded to a desperate call for help from twelve other mothers of young deaf children.  In 1943, JTC was compassionately founded by Louise Treadwell Tracy after she witnessed the limited services, technology, and education available for children like her son, John.  At that time, JTC became the only such entity worldwide to provide services to educate and offer support to parents of infants and preschool children with hearing loss.  Walt Disney, with whom the family was friends with, was one of the original board members.

In a Daily News article from 2003, before John Tracy passed away, he was asked whether he had a message for the children who are deaf or hard of hearing that attend the center that bears his name.

"I want to let the kids know they can live a full life. Sports, schools, hobbies, interests, dating, marriage, have a family, drive a car -- all of it."-John Tracy

By encouraging parents to build a foundation of communication with their children during the critical stage for language development, JTC has enabled close to half a million children to master the challenges of listening and spoken language and communicate on par with their hearing peers by the time they reach elementary school.

Mrs. Tracy inspired nearly 80 years of service to a community in need of dynamic, interactive, family-focused care.  When a family comes to JTC, they find more than a building; they receive family-centered education, encouragement, guidance, and support they need for their child.  We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have come before us to shape this organization and to build on Mrs. Tracy's vision for a worldwide movement.

JTC Through the Years

JTC was founded in 1943 by Louise Treadwell Tracy, wife of actor Spencer Tracy.  JTC was named in honor of their son John who was born deaf.  Mrs. Tracy's vision that children with hearing loss will learn to listen and speak remains the foundation of JTC today. We have evolved our family-centered methodology to be provided through direct service, social media, mail and online services to families around the world. In short, we are no longer just a clinic but a world-wide center. With reverence to Mrs. Tracy's words and the work she inspired, we have become the John Tracy CenterFrom its founding JTC has provided services for families and children with hearing loss, offering Hope, Guidance and Encouragement.

  • Expansion Speech Language Pathology Program

    Our speech-language pathologists have expanded to welcome children of all needs, though we continue to be specialists in hearing loss. We are experienced in a wide range of communication delays and disorders and aim to empower families to be partners in our therapy plans.

  • World Renown International Sessions Offered Virtually

    Essential Listening Spoken Language Lab for children and families across the state, nation and globe is offered for those who cannot come to our facilities.  The program offers online live sessions about LSL for parents of preschoolers, ages 2 to 6.

  • COVID-19 Impact and Response

    JTC’s commitment to support our families remained constant through the COVID-19 pandemic. We moved quickly to provide essential services virtually and reopened critical audiology services as soon as government orders allowed.

  • JTC’s Grand Opening

    JTC unveils out brand new state-of-the-art-facility at our Grand Opening of 2160 W. Adams in Los Angeles, CA.

  • After a comprehensive search process, John Tracy Center’s Board of Directors announces the appointment of Cathleen Mathes as JTC’s new President and CEO. Gaston Kent retires after more than eight years of service as President and CEO to the JTC community.

  • John Tracy Clinic is renamed to John Tracy Center, relocates to a newly renovated state of the art facility and begins the Capital Campaign: Becoming John Tracy Center.

  • JTC opens an additional satellite office in San Gabriel, CA offering Parent-Infant, Listening & Spoken Language, Speech Therapy, and Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services.

  • JTC Celebrates 75th Anniversary at the Walt Disney Studios

  • JTC sells 806 West Adams property, purchases 2160 W. Adams property and begins the process of renovating the building to ensure JTC’s long-term sustainability.

  • JTC expands Audiology services to children up to eighteen years old.

Rian Johnson

Academy Award nominated American film maker; Rian Johnson was honored at John Tracy Center's JTC 75th Anniversary Gala at Disney Studios on May 6th, 2018. Rian, who once worked as JTC's media intern, joined the 2019 Capital Campaign, A Clinic to the World: Becoming John Tracy Center.  We are grateful that in his Hollywood success and in gifting the Rian Johnson Auditorium, he continues to support John Tracy Center's mission to help children with hearing loss learn to listen and speak.

Special guests attending the 75th Gala were Mark, Marilou, Chelsea and Nate Hamill, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Kelly Marie Tran, Ram Bergman, Kelly Marcel, Gus Van Sant, Stephen and Lorrie Clark, Noah Segan, among others

Walt Disney with Kids

Walt Disney

American entrepreneur, animator voice actor and film producer. Walt Disney is considered a pioneer of the American animation industry. As a film producer, Disney holds the record for most Academy Awards earned by an individual, having won 22 Oscars from 59 nominations.

The Tracy and Disney relationship was long and deep, they knew each other from polo and the entertainment industry. Perhaps the greatest link was John Tracy. Louise and Spencer's son, John had an interest in art and as child started a newspaper. The first issue sported a Mickey Mouse cover with and inscription by Disney, which read, "Good Luck to Johnny Tracy"."  IN 1957, Disney hired John to work at the studio. He eventually left when his sight deteriorated, and he was no longer able to do his job.

Disney later funded and supplied a director from his studio. Larry Lansburgh, to produce a short film about John Tracy Clinic's Programs, titled Listening Eyes.

Walt Disney took an active role as Founding Director for the Clinic and served as Vice President of the Board of Directors until his death in 1966. He personally participated in fundraisers, lent his expertise for film-based documentation and instruction, and chaired the Endowment Committee.

John Tracy Clinic celebrated its 75th Anniversary Gala at Disney Studios Legends Plaza under Walt Disney's office in 2017.

Annette Joanne Funicello

Achieved teenage popularity starting in October 1955 after she debuted as a Mouseketeer. Walt Disney himself saw her preforming the lead roles in "Swan Late" at her ballet school's year-end recital in Burbank and decided to have her audition along with two hundred other children. Annette became the last Mouseketeer of the twenty-four that was picked. By the run-through in 1958 of the Mickey Mouse Club (1955) in which she appeared in her own multi-segmented series entitled "Annette", she had become the most popular of them all and the only one kept under contract by Walt Disney after he canceled the show. After that she appeared in several films. Annette was very closed with Walt Disney and participated in several of John Tracy Clinic's benefits especially the annual Bazzars during the 60's.

Annette Funicello
Spencer Tracy

Spencer Tracy

One of the major stars of Hollywood's Golden Age. Spencer Tracy won two consecutive Academy Awards for Best Actor in 1937 and 1938 for Captains Courageous and Boys Town. Tracy was considered one of the best actors of his time. Despite the perception of being able to perform effortlessly, acquaintance of Tracy said that he would carefully prepare for each role. He continues to receive praise from his scholars, describing Tracy as a master of acting technique.

Spencer Tracy met Louise Treadwell when they were both members of the Wood Players in New York and married in 1023. Their son was born in 1924, and soon after diagnosed with hearing loss. Spencer was devastated by the news of his son's deafness. He supported Louise as she worked tirelessly in teaching John to learn to speak.

After Louise founded JTC, Spencer supported her work with the Clinic and was its sole financial support in the beginning. In April 1951, Spencer turned the world premiere of his new film, Father's Little Dividend at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, into a building fund-raiser for the Clinic's new site. Spencer's support was always strong, and over his Hollywood career, he personally donated more than half a million dollars to the Clinic. His admiration for his wife was another constant. At the dedication of the new Clinic building in 1952, he said to the visiting dignitaries, staff, and press:

"You honor me because I am a movie actor, a start in Hollywood terms. Well, there 's nothing I've ever done that can match what Louise has done for deaf children and their parents."

Robert Wagner

One of the most popular and successful stars in the entertainment industry, boasting three his series and an impressive list of both feature and television films. As a young man under contract to 20th Century Fox, Spencer Tracy saw him in "Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef" and requested Wagner for the role of his sone in "Broken Lance." Tracy was so impressed with Wagner, he cast him as his brother again in "The Mountain."

Over the years Robert Wagner has contributed immeasurably to the advancement of JTC's mission. His support began in the 70s, when both he and his late wife Natalie Wood helped promote a popular tennis and crumpet fundraising event for the Women's Auxiliary of John Tracy Clinic. In 2007, Mr. Wagner expanded his passionate commitment by joining the JTC Board of Directors. He served until 2012 and then transitioned to membership on the Board of Trustees. While involved, Mr. Wagner and his wife, famous actress Jill St. John, helped JTC secure vital funding as well as increased awareness through events and other activities including narrating a video called "Welcome to John Tracy Clinic."

Robert Wagner

Celebrities involved in JTC 1942- 1964

Walt Disney, John Forsythe, James Garner, Cary Grant, Lorne Green, Charlton Heston, James Mason, Raymond Massey, Dick Powell, Edward G. Robinson, Gregory Peck, Robert Young, Hugh Hefner.

Celebrities that Have made Public Service Announcements for JTC

John Forsythe, Angie Dickinson, Dyan Cannon, Raymond Barr, James Garners, Cindy Williams, Penny Marshall, Cher, Ed Asner, Carol Burnett, Lou Ferrigno, Jeff Float, Gerald McRaney, Bob Newhart, Sylvester Stallone, Mary Hart, Robert Wagner.