At least 90% of the world can be said to have seen one or two Disney films, after all, they are the leading family-friendly production company in the world. And if you have seen one of the company’s films, chances are you have been Bambi, one of the company’s most popular projects, which was released in 1942. If you have, then you are familiar with the work of Tyrus Wong, a Chinese-American artist who designed the production of the film.
America has always positioned itself as a multicultural society where anyone with any background can come and make something of themselves and that couldn’t be truer with men like Tyrus Wong, who rose to the top of his profession as a creative artist, working as a muralist, set designer, animator, and painter.
In this article, we’ve compiled five interesting things about the famous creative designer. Read on to learn all about them.
Who Was Tyrus Wong?
His legend speaks of him as Tyrus Wong but he was born Wong Gen Yeo in Taishan, Guangdong, China on the 25th of October, 1910. He spent nine years in China before he and his father immigrated to the United States, where he spent the rest of his life, rising to become the acclaimed personality he is today.
Right from an early age, Tyrus Wong took up an interest in art, and his skills at the subject, particularly in drawing and calligraphy got him a chance to learn more via scholarship at the Otis Art Institute for a summer program while he attended high school at Benjamin Franklin Junior High School.
The excellence he displayed at Otis fast-tracked his education and soon he transferred to the college on a permanent basis, working as a janitor in order to complement his financial status. After graduation from Otis College, he began to work in Hollywood and there the legend that is Tyrus Wong was born.
He started out by working as a Hallmark card designer before moving on to Disney between 1928 and 1941, where he worked on what is perhaps his most popular project yet, Bambi. After Disney, he worked for Warner Bros production company where he worked as a film production illustrator between 1942 and 1968.
Over the course of his active career, Tyrus Wong worked in different mediums as a lithographer, painter, animator, muralist, calligrapher, and kite maker. He retired from active work in 2015 at the age of 105, having worked professionally for 85 years since 1930.
Here Are 5 Interesting Facts You Need To Know
1. He Was Married For 58 Years
Longevity has been one of the key facets of Tyrus Wong’s professional life and it is one that also extended to his personal life. He was married to Ruth Kim from 1937 to 1995, which was a total of 58 years. The marriage ended in 1995 following the death of his wife and he never remarried.
While they were together, Tyrus Wong and Ruth Kim had three children, daughters Kay, Tai-Ling, and Kim. Through them, he has two grandsons, Kevin Fong, and Jason Fong.
2. There Is A Film About His Life
A man of his reputation and contribution to animation in the American movie industry is worth celebrating and in Hollywood, there are fewer ways to celebrate an individual’s life than to make a movie about said life. In 2015, a movie, Tyrus, which was based on the life of the famous artist was released. The film was directed and written by Pamela Tom.
The film won a couple of awards, most of which were festival awards at Boston Asian, Hawaii and the San Diego Asian Film Festival. In further celebration of him, a Google Doddle was released on the 25th of October, 2018.
3. His Artwork Has Been Exhibited In Several Major Museums
For an artist, the exhibition of your work is an important milestone and Tyrus Wong has had his work featured in several exhibitions across America. From the Walt Disney Family Museum to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Grand Lobby Gallery, Tyrus Wong’s works have graced a few of the resident temples of celebrated artworks in America.
4. He Was Fired From Disney
He may have helped create one of the most beautiful animation works in Disney’s history but Tyrus Wong was unceremoniously fired from his role at Disney in 1941 after participating in the Disney Animators’ Strike. The firing led him to work for one of Disney’s competitors, Warner Bros. for 26 years.
5. He Died In 2016
After living a full life, well into a century, at the age of 106, Tyrus Wong died of natural causes on the 30th of December, 2016. He was buried and interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills.