Chinese American Milton Quon, a long-time Disney animator who has worked on numerous animated classics such as “Fantasia” and “Dumbo,” recently passed away at age 105.
Quon reportedly died of natural causes on June 18 at his home in Torrance, Ca., Variety reports.
The only son of immigrants from Canton, China, Quon was born in Los Angeles as the eldest of eight children in 1913. While he exhibited talent and passion for drawing at an early age, Quon revealed in an interview that his parents swayed him away from drawing and convinced him to take up engineering in college instead.
It was his uncle who encouraged him to pursue a career in art, before receiving a scholarship to the Chouinard Art Institute. His first artworks were featured in menus and design work found in restaurants in the Chinatown district in Los Angeles.
When Quon joined Walt Disney Studios as a fresh graduate back in 1939, he became the studios’ third Chinese-American employee.
As an artist, he worked on the “Waltz of the Flowers” and the “Arabian Dance” scenes in “Fantasia” and later, as first assistant animator on “Dumbo.”
During World War II, Quon headed a team of artists at Douglas Aircraft who worked on illustrations for airplane repair manuals.
Immediately after the war, he made his return to Disney, running the studio’s publicity/promotions department, creating artwork for films including “Make Mine Music” and “Song of the South.”
Quon later became an art director for advertising agency BBD&O in 1951, then worked as senior design artist at Sealright Co., from 1964 to 1980. He also taught drawing, painting and advertising courses at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College until 1989.
Quon even dabbled in acting later in his career, appearing in movies such as “Speed,” “Chill Factor,” “Sweet Jane,” “The Cat Killers” and the TV series “NYPD Blue.”
In a 2005 interview, Quon described his “Speed” character as the “token Asian on the bus.”
According to his son, artist Mike Quon, his father had a great sense of humor. Quon would often say that his secret to his long life is having “A good wife and Chinese food.”
Mike Quon said his father was drawing up until the final days he spent alive.
A retrospective exhibit of Quon’s work was featured by the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles back in 2005. In 2013, Quon received the Golden Spike Award from the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California.