Animation concept artist and Disney Legend, Tyrus Wong is celebrating his 102nd birthday this week (though his actual birthday was yesterday Oct. 25th). You can send Tyrus a birthday greeting yourself here or better yet, on the Facebook page set up to support Pamela Tom’s feature length documentary (currently in post production). Alice Davis (Marc’s widow), animator Tony Anselmo and Minnie Mouse voice Russi Taylor have left video greetings on the page.

Tom’s film, Tyrus Wong:Brushstrokes in Hollywood is the first in-depth portrait that “explores the life and art of 101-year old pioneering Chinese American painter, muralist, lithographer, kite builder, and Disney Legend”. According to her website:

The movie shares Tyrus’s remarkable journey as one of the very first Chinese Americans to make a living in art and film during the earliest days of moviemaking. Despite numerous obstacles, like the Exclusion Laws and rampant racism, audiences will witness Tyrus’s long, illustrious, and diverse career, including his ground-breaking work at Disney on the classic film Bambi, and his nearly 30 years at Warner Bros. and other studios creating the look for dozens of notable classic movies with some of the most famous directors in Hollywood’s Golden Era. The film includes interviews with John Canemaker, Don Hahn, Andreas Deja, Eric Goldberg, Paul Felix, Charles Solomon and Alice Davis and appearances by Marc Davis and Frank Thomas.

While the film tells the story of an exceptional artist and inspiring individual, it also sheds light on the dramatic and untold story of the Chinese American experience in the 20th century. The film includes a powerful scene in which Tyrus visits the Angel Island Immigration Station in the San Francisco bay, where he first arrived and was detained in 1910.

I wish her success in bringing this story to the screen. In the meantime – Happy Birthday Tyrus Wong!

(Note: Wong will be appearing in person to discuss his career at the CTN Expo in Burbank California next month. More details here).

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Jerry Beck

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