Tyrus Wong, whose paintings inspired Disney’s animated classic “Bambi” has reportedly died on Friday at the age of 106, as announced on his Facebook page.
“With heavy hearts, we announce the passing of Tyrus Wong,” the post said. “Tyrus died peacefully at his home surrounded by his loving daughters Kim, Kay and Tai-Ling. He was 106 years old.”
Tyrus Wong was a Chinese-American artist, who immigrated from China to the Bay Area at age 9. He earned a scholarship to art school, and then started working in animation in 1938.
Wong had heard about Disney’s “Bambi” project and decided to put together a series of drawings of a deer in a forest to show the company. “I tried to keep it very, very simple and create the atmosphere, the feeling of the forest,” Wong once said.
His drawings impressed Disney, and they ended up using them as an inspiration for the animated film. Wong had also worked on films such as “Rebel Without a Cause,” “The Green Berets,” and “The Wild Bunch.”
Wong was named a “Disney Legend” in 2001. He also had his art featured in the Walt Disney Family Museum in 2013. In more recent news, in October of this year, he received two honors at the Asian World Festival. He received a lifetime achievement award, and the next day was the screening of a documentary made about him named “Tyrus,” directed by Pam Tom.
“With his passing, we have lost a brilliant artist, motion picture & animation legend, Chinese American pioneer, and hero,” the filmmakers of Tyrus said in a post on Facebook.
“He survived Angel Island, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Great Depression, discrimination, and the loss of Ruth, his soul mate and beloved wife of over 50 years. Yet Tyrus always faced adversity with dignity, courage and art.”