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Early Life

1910 (Oct. 25) — Tyrus Wong (Wong Gaing Yoo) is born in Nom On, Guangzhou, China, to Wong Sai Po and Lee See

1919 (Dec. 30) — Tyrus immigrates to the U.S. under the paper name of Look Tai Yow (or Yu) on the S.S. China with his father, whose paper name was Look Get. Tyrus arrives at Angel Island and is detained for a month.

1926 — At the suggestion of Paul Wong, Tyrus moves to Pasadena and lives in a boarding house adjacent to the Methodist Episcopal Chinese Mission. There, he attends Benjamin Franklin Jr. Middle School and is placed in a special class to learn English. He is also enrolled in a lettering class where a teacher notices Tyrus’ artistic talents.

1928 — Tyrus begins studies at the Otis Art Institute on a summer scholarship. He returns to live with his father in a men’s boarding house on Ferguson Alley in Los Angeles’ Old Chinatown.

1930s — Tyrus exhibits his work regularly, especially with a group known as the California Orientalists.

1932 — Tyrus exhibits an etching in the First International Exhibition of Etching and Engraving at the Art Institute of Chicago along with numerous other artists, including Picasso, Klee, Kandinsky and Matisse.

1935 (Aug. 29) — Tyrus’ father passes away from complications due to diabetes and is buried at the Chinese Cemetery in East Los Angeles.

1936 — Tyrus is hired as an artist under the Federal Arts Project, receiving $94 per month.

1937 (June 27) — Tyrus marries Ruth Kim in Bakersfield, CA.

1938 (Oct. 13) — Tyrus’ first daughter, Kay Wong, is born.

Disney & Warner Bros.

1938 (March) — Tyrus begins work at Disney as an in-betweener for $2.50 per day. Within two months he is hired to work on Bambi.

1941 (May 29) — Disney Studios workers strike begins; Tyrus stays in.

1941 (Oct.) — Disney Studios workers strike ends. Tyrus is fired, one year before Bambi is completed.

1941 — Tyrus is hired by Warner Bros. as a production illustrator, where he will remain until 1968.

1943 (March 10) — Tyrus’ second daughter, Tai-Ling, is born.

1945 – 1950 — Tyrus begins painting dinnerware for the Winfield Pottery Company.

1946 — Tyrus gains U.S. Citizenship.

1949 (Jul. 2) — Tyrus’ third daughter, Kim Wong, is born.

1950 & On

1950s — Tyrus works as a Christmas card designer while continuing his work for Warner Bros.

1970’s — Tyrus begins making kites.

1995 (Jan.) — Ruth Wong passes away

2001 — Tyrus is inducted as a Disney Legend by Disney Studios

2016 (Dec. 30) — Tyrus Wong passes away at 106 years old.


1935 (Sept. 17) — The Beggar wins the Annual Honor Award of the Foundation of Western Art.

1938 — Tyrus receives the Merit Award from the Foundation of Western Art.

1941 (Oct. 23) — Tyrus is awarded the Purchase Prize from the L.A. Times.

1943 — Tyrus receives the Service Award for his work on behalf of Art for National Defense.

1947 (June) — Haunted House receives the Chicago Art Director’s Club Merit Award.

1954 — Tyrus wins the L.A. Museum Award for Watercolor.

2000 — Tyrus receives the first United Asian Artists Network Award from the Pacific Asia Museum.

2001 (Sept.) — Tyrus receives the Chinese American Museum’s 5th annual Historymaker’s Award.

2006 (Feb. 6) — Tyrus receives the Winsor McCay Award at the 33rd Annual Annie Awards.

2007 (Oct) — Tyrus receives National Watercolor Association Lifetime Achievement Award.

2009 — Tyrus receives the Hope of Los Angeles Award, presented by Mayor Villaraigosa and the City of Los Angeles.

2010 (May 8) — Tyrus receives the Otis Alumni Achievement Award at the Beverly Hilton.

2012 (Sept. 21) — Tyrus receives the 21st OCA Annual Image Award (Artistic Achievement Award).

2014 (Nov) — Tyrus receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Museum of Chinese in America.

2015 (Nov. 7) — Tyrus receives the Lifetime Achievement Award at San Diego Asian Film Festival.

2016 (Mar. 9) — Tyrus receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation.

2016 (Oct. 9) — Tyrus receives the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Asian World Film Festival.

Additional support for Tyrus is provided in part by The Louie Family Foundation, The Walt Disney Company Foundation, Buck Gee & Mary Hackenbracht, the National Endowment for the Arts, County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, Bill Yee, David Ahmanson, East West Bank, and Women in Film.


My job is, you know, to to paint as many sketches as I could set in an atmosphere.

Early in the morning when, you know, it's very foggy. You see snow, and then the fire.

Because it is so impressionistic, his use of light and his use of softness helps you focus on the characters, who are by nature - drawn on cells - sharp.

His use of color was very adventurous. He was using color to really raise the emotional stakes of what was going on in the story.


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