[personal profile] defunctbrowser
From the NYT obit for Tyrus Wong, artist and art director, whose work on Bambi made it, in my view, the greatest of the Disney animated films:

[...]Tyrus traveled to Los Angeles to join his father, who had found work in a gambling den. They lived in a vermin-infested boardinghouse sandwiched between a butcher shop and a brothel. After school, Tyrus worked as a houseboy for two Pasadena families, earning 50 cents a day.

His first art teacher was his father, who trained him nightly in calligraphy by having him dip a brush in water and trace ghostly characters on newspaper: They could not afford ink or drawing paper.

When Tyrus was in junior high, a teacher, noting his drawing talent, arranged a summer scholarship to the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles.

By his own account an indifferent student in public school, Tyrus found his calling at the institute, now the Otis College of Art and Design. When his scholarship ended he declined to return to junior high.

His father scraped together the $90 tuition — a small fortune — to let him stay on as Otis’s youngest student.

He studied there for at least five years, simultaneously working as the school janitor, before graduating in the 1930s. Not long afterward his father died, leaving young Mr. Wong entirely on his own.

From 1936 to 1938, Mr. Wong was an artist for the Works Progress Administration, creating paintings for libraries and other public spaces.

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