Tyrus Wong, Disney Artist, Dies at 106

The artist Tyrus Wong, who made major contributions to Walt Disney’s 1942 animated classic “Bambi,” passed away just before the end of the year. He was responsible for the gorgeously distinctive background paintings that made it a breakthrough in animation.

Painting for “Bambi” by Tyrus Wong

Wong’s obituary recounts his epic tale: as a Chinese-born child he was forced to endure withering government screening and trials to immigrate to the States; his father taught him to use a brush with just water because they could not afford ink; he earned a pittance in wages and the bigotry of low expectations making his way in the arts; when he tried his hand at animation, he was assigned the “in between” work that was considered the trade’s lowest and most menial job; through sheer pluck he managed to convince Disney to hire him to create the work that has helped “Bambi” endure for decades, and yet he was still fired during an employee strike in which he did not take part; ultimately it took until the 1990s for him to win recognition for his seminal work. Despite all that the man lived to be 106 years old before he passed on. Amazing.

Read the full obituary at nytimes.com. Also, read about the retrospective exhibition of his work that was mounted last year at observer.com.