HomeBad Ass AsiansPioneer Asian American Disney Animator Dies at 106

Pioneer Asian American Disney Animator Dies at 106


Tyrus Wong
Tyrus Wong inspired Disney’s Bambi and won the San Diego Asian Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award. With AsAm News’ Mandy Day
Photo by Brian Bautista

By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent

Legendary Disney Artist Tyrus Wong has died at the age of 106.
Wong is best known for his work on the classic Disney film Bambi. In 1938, Wong heard that Disney was in preproduction on the film and went home to sketch pictures of deer in the forest. The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco  says those sketches caught the attention of Walt Disney himself and became the basis for the film’s artistry.
Although he only worked for Disney for three years until 1941, the studio recognized him with its Disney Legends Award. The honor is given to a select few who made an extraordinary and integral contribution to the Walt Disney Company.
The Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles held an exhibition of Wong’s work in 2004. Among the work showcased were his colorful kites. The museum awarded Wong its CAM Historymakers Award in 2001.
Wong worked at the Warner Bros. studio from 1942 to 1968, creating concept images for many films including Rebel Without a Cause [1955] and The Wild Bunch [1969].
Wong’s life was documented by filmmaker Pamela Tom  in the documentary Tyrus in 2015. The film played at numerous film festivals. He was born in Canton, China in 1910. He immigrated with his father in 1920, and never saw his mother and sister again.
Tyrus dies at the home of his daughters Kim, Kay and Tai-Ling.
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