Franz Brown (John Porthos Falstaff)
also called Santa Claus

Biographical Information

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Franz Brown was born in 1950 in Yonkers, New York, the third of eight children.
In those days everything was black and white.

His parents were artists. His father, Reynold Brown (1917-1991), had begun his career in illustration just a few years earlier. (Reynold Brown was about to become one of the star figures in the illustration of movie posters working from 1951 to 1971 before switching to the fine arts market.)

His mother, Mary Louise (Tejeda) Brown (b. 1921) started a career as an artist in Los Angeles in 1941. She married Reynold in 1946 and set her art career aside to raise the family. 

The family moved to California in 1951 where Franz grew up in Temple City and then La Verne, both near Los Angeles. Mary Louise lives in Nebraska and continues to paint there.

Franz went to grammar school at our Lady of Assumption school in Claremont, CA, a Catholic school taught at the time by Benedictine nuns. He went to high school at Damien High School in La Verne, CA (1963-1968). It was thought at the time that he had potential for the sciences. Through high school Brown lived in the country. The family had ten acres enclosed by open fields and streams. Franz developed an appreciation for the environment there

He began doing photography when he was 16 and continues to do so.

"Horse in a Corner"

From Brown's recent photograph series "House in a Pink Cloud"


He joined the Navy Reserve Officer Training Program (ROTC) at the University of Washington, Seattle in 1968 with the intention of going into Oceanography. Contact with and admiration for faculty members of the Russian Area Department caused him to switch to that area of study.

Franz Brown received a Bachelor's Degree in Russian Area Studies from the University of Washington in 1972 and received a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. At the time the North Vietnamese were conquering South Vietnam. Brown watched  with relief as the United States decided not to spend any more time and lives in Vietnam. He served 7 1/2 years in the Marine Corps working in Communications and Electronic Warfare and eventually reached the rank of Captain. He served mainly in California  (First Medical Battalion), Okinawa (Communications Company, Third Marine Division), Korea and Hawaii (First Radio Battalion).

Franz Brown
Captain USMC 1980


He returned to California where he obtained a Master's Degree in Mass Communications from California State University, Northridge, CA in 1987.

He has since then been doing free-lance work as a writer and photographer, specializing in the arts. His articles have appeared in Southwest Art Magazine, US Art and Outdoor Photographer, Black Hills Travel Host and Black Hills FACES Magazine.

He has also helped to promote the work of his father and mother as well as doing his own artwork on the side. He assisted in the organizing of materials for "The Man Who Drew Bug-Eyed Monsters" a television documentary on the life and art of Reynold Brown which appeared on National Public Television and AMC.


One of his favorite activities has been his cooperation with fine artist Tom Browning in Browning's production of a series of paintings depicting Santa Claus. They began this collaboration in 1986 and continue to do so.

Brown's image as Santa has appeared in Browning's traditional scenes as well as his Time-Off series. He is now seen across the US as well as a number of foreign countries as Browning's images appear on prints, cards and a multitude of consumer products during the Christmas season.

Franz Brown as "Old St. Nick", a painting by Tom Browning.

Brown makes occasional public appearances as Santa. During the late 1990 he regularly rode the Santa Train out of Chadron, NE. He continues to participate in the Chadron Parade of Lights.

Although Franz has liked art all his life it was not until 1987 after his arrival in Nebraska that he was able to pursue this interest. He started with a series of small landscape paintings from 5x7" to 12x18".

Franz moved to Hot Springs, SD (2003). He was able to do larger works and often does paintings that are up to 24x48" and occasionally 36x48". He uses his birth name, Franz Karl Brown, as a signature on his art. Under his own name he does mostly landscape work.

Gold Fish in Hot Brook
Acrylic 12x9"


He also uses John Porthos Falstaff on art with an underlying message other than the aesthetics or beauty of a subject..

Under his Falstaff signature his painting projects currently include a series of self portraits in his own paintings of Santa Claus.

He is working on a series of large paintings, "A Walk in the Woods," depicting a hiker in the Black Hills.

He recently (2009) started a new series of full figure portraits tentatively called "Bears".

Self portrait as handsome "bear". This is a small 24x12 oil study. Click here to see final 48x24 oil self portrait.

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Contact Franz Brown
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Franz Brown, 646 S 16th Apt B4, Hot Springs, SD 57747 

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