Google on Thursday paid homage to legendary artist Tyrus Wong by dedicating a ‘Doodle’ to him on his birth anniversary. Wong was a Chinese-born American artist who is credited for some of the best-known images in American popular culture. Wong was noted for his role as a lead production illustrator in Disney’s 1942 film Bambi.
Born on October 25, 1910, in Taishan county in China’s Guangdong province, Wong and his father immigrated to the United States seeking a better life in 1920. They eventually settled in Los Angeles.
Wong’s love for art was recognized by his father at an early age. Wong usually visited the Los Angeles Central Library where he was introduced to the paintings by Chinese artists of the Song Dynasty. The paintings largely remained as an inspiration for him throughout his career. While studying in junior high school and working as a waiter in Chinatown, Wong earned a scholarship in the Otis Art Institute. In 1932, Wong’s work was displayed at the Art Institue of Chicago along with the works of Picasso, Matisse, and Paul Klee.
In 1938, Wong was hired by Walt Disney Studios as an intern to draw illustrations that were later photographed to turn into animated films. During his stint at Disney, Wong’s produced his most notable work as a lead illustrator in the film Bambi. Surprisingly, when Bambi hit theatres, he was only credited as one of the many ‘Background Artists’.
Subsequently, Wong went on to work for Warner Brothers, drawing and painting storyboards that took shape in the form of some of the most iconic Hollywood movies like Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), and The Wild Bunch (1969). He worked at the Warner Brothers for over 26 years — until his retirement in 1968.
Wong’s contributions to the Hollywood industry largely went unrecognized. It was until 2001 that he was named a ‘Disney legend’. In 2015, Wong was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the San Diego Asian Film Festival.
He was married to Ruth Ng Kim whom he met during his stint as a waiter in Chinatown. The couple had three daughters.
Wong passed away on December 30, 2016, at the age of 106.