‘Bambi’ Pioneer Tyrus Wong Gets Two Tributes for His 106th Birthday
Tyrus “Ty” Wong doesn’t get what the fuss is all about. Sure, he created “Bambi’s” distinctive look and exhibited artwork with Picasso. And yes, he illustrated scenes from “Rebel Without a Cause” and “The Wild Bunch” while designing popular Hallmark holiday cards on the side.
All those accomplishments don’t overly impress Wong, however.
“I’m just a lucky artist,” the centenarian likes to insist to his daughter Kim.
Hollywood and the Asian-American community know better. They have been showering Wong with recognition and accolades the past 15 years while he shakes his head in bemusement.
Next week the pioneering artist will be twice honored at the Asian World Film Festival. On Oct. 24, he will receive a lifetime achievement award on the opening day of the fest, sponsored by Variety. And the next day the festival will screen Pam Tom’s documentary about him on his 106th birthday.
“My dad is tickled,” Kim says on his behalf. “But he doesn’t understand the hullabaloo.”
Tom sure does. The Asian-American filmmaker spent 17 years researching and shaping her documentary about Wong, who has packed a lot of artistry into his long life. Born in China, he immigrated to the Bay Area at age 9, went to art school on scholarship, and painted murals before taking a low-level animation job in 1938.