Milton Quon, one of the oldest surviving members of the Walt Disney animation team, breathed his last at the age of 105. The animator, who is known for his works on 'Fantasia' and 'Dumbo', died of natural causes at his home in Torrance, Ca. on June 18.
His son, artist Mike Quon, told Variety that his father had a good sense of humor throughout his life. Milton would often joke that the secret of his long life was a "good wife and Chinese food".
Not only an animator, Milton made his mark as an actor in several movies such as 'Speed', 'Chill Factor', 'Sweet Jane', 'The Cat Killers' and also the TV series 'NYPD Blue'. Fondly reminiscing about his 'Speed' character in a 2005 interview with the Los Angeles Times, he said he was the “token Asian on the bus.”
Born on August 22, 1913, in Los Angeles as the eldest of eight children and the only son of immigrants from Canton, China, it was on his uncle's insistence that he happened to take up art. Later, he also received a scholarship at the Chouinard Art Institute. His penchant for design work led him to start creating menus for restaurants in the Chinatown district in Los Angeles. His son told The Wrap that his father lived "the full artist life".
In 1939, he got his break in the animation industry when he was hired by Walt Disney Studios for the legendary classic 'Fantasia'. His designs could be predominantly seen in the 'Waltz of the Flowers' segment, where fairies come into a peaceful forest and perform to Tchaikovsky’s 'Nutcracker Suite' playing in the background.
Quon served as first assistant animator on 'Dumbo' in 1941 after which he took a break. During the World War II, he headed a team of artists at Douglas Aircraft to work on illustrations for repair manuals for its planes. Later, he rejoined Disney and became the studio’s publicity executive.
Quon joined the advertising agency BBD&O as an art director in 1951. He also worked as senior design artist at Sealright Co., from 1964 until his retirement in 1980. Even after he retired, he took delight in teaching drawing, painting and advertising courses at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College from 1974 to 1989 and piled up a collection of more than 100 sketchbooks.
A retrospective exhibit of his work was presented at The Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles in 2005. Quon was given the Golden Spike Award from the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California in 2013 and was featured in a father and son art exhibition in Red Bank, New Jersey, with his son Mike and in a solo exhibition at Santa Monica College’s Emeritus Gallery.
The Disney animator is survived by his wife Peggy, children Mike, Jeff, Tim and Sherrill; and four grandchildren.