Disney animator Milton Quon dies at 105

Milton Quon, an animator who worked on “Fantasia” and “Dumbo,” died of natural causes at his home in Torrance, Ca., on June 18. He was 105.

His son, artist Mike Quon, told Variety that his father was drawing up until his last days. He also acted in movies including “Speed,” “Chill Factor,” “Sweet Jane,” “The Cat Killers” and the TV series “NYPD Blue” in addition to working as a Disney publicity executive. He described his “Speed” character in a 2005 interview as the “token Asian on the bus.”

Mike Quon said his father maintained a sense of humor throughout his life. When asked about the secret to his longevity, he would reply, “A good wife and Chinese food.”

Photo: Courtesy of Mike Quon for Variety

Quon was born in Los Angeles as the eldest of eight children and the only son of immigrants from Canton, China. He was encouraged by an uncle to pursue a career in art, before receiving a scholarship to the Chouinard Art Institute. Soon after, he began creating menus and producing design work for restaurants in the Chinatown district in Los Angeles.

Quon joined Walt Disney Studios in 1939 soon after graduation from Chouinard as the third Chinese-American to be hired by the studio. He worked on the “Waltz of the Flowers” and the “Arabian Dance” scenes in “Fantasia” and as first assistant animator on “Dumbo.”

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Milton Quon celebrates 90 years of Disney animation
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Milton Quon celebrates 90 years of Disney animation
BURBANK, CA - DECEMBER 10: Executive director John Lasseter (L) and animator Milton Quon attend the 90 Years of Disney Animation celebration at Walt Disney Studios on December 10, 2013 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney Animation)
BURBANK, CA - DECEMBER 10: Animator Milton Quon attends the 90 Years of Disney Animation celebration at Walt Disney Studios on December 10, 2013 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney Animation)
BURBANK, CA - DECEMBER 10: Executive director John Lasseter, President, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios Ed Catmull, General Manager, Walt Disney Animation Studios Andrew Millstein amongst Disney Legends, Frozen filmmakers, voice talent and artists onstage during the 90 Years of Disney Animation celebration at Walt Disney Studios on December 10, 2013 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney Animation)
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Quon also headed a team of artists at Douglas Aircraft during World War II, working on illustrations for repair manuals for its planes. He returned to Disney after the war and ran its publicity/promotions department, including performing artwork for films including “Make Mine Music” and “Song of the South.”

Quon joined the advertising agency BBD&O as art director in 1951. He worked as senior design artist at Sealright Co., from 1964 until his retirement in 1980. He taught drawing, painting and advertising courses at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College from 1974 to 1989.

The Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles presented a retrospective exhibit of his work in 2005. He received 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.

Survivors include his widow, Peggy; children Mike, Jeff, Tim and Sherrill; and four grandchildren. The family has asked that donations in his memory be made to the Chinese American Museum, the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California and the South Bay Presbyterian Church of Torrance.

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Walt Disney over the years
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Walt Disney over the years
UNSPECIFIED - NOVEMBER 27: Walt Disney's father and mother late 19th century (Photo by Apic/Getty Images)
Actor Leslie Howard and producer Walt Disney shake hands after playing in a polo match together.
(Original Caption) Walt Disney (1901-1966), famed orignator of full-length animated motion pictures, at work at his drawing board.
(Original Caption) Portrait of Walter Elias Disney (1901-1966), originator of the vast Disney empire consisting of theme parks, cartoons, and movies. Disney is waving and smiling for the camera in this 3/4 length photograph.
Walt Disney with kittens.
(Original Caption) 2/1942: Secretary of Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Walt Disney, Assistant Secretary of Treasury, John L. Sullivan, Assistant to the Secretary George Buffington, Disney Artist Joseph Grant, and Disney writer Richard Huemer look over Disney's sketches for 'The New Spirit,' Disney cartoon for the Treasury Department.
(Original Caption) Walt Disney takes an imaginary spin high on an old Eagle racing bike while his daughter, Diane, paces him on an 1870 model tricycle. The bikes are part of a collection in Ford's Edison Museum. Undated photograph.
(Original Caption) Walter E. Disney, famous producer of animated cartoons, is shown with doll replicas of his most famous characters which were responsible for his being conferred an honorary degree of Bachelor of Arts at Harvard University Commencement. President James Bryant Conant made the presentation before 5,800 special guests, alumni, students, faculty and members of the graduating class.
(Original Caption) Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse, with Louis Lumiere, French Grand old man of films, during the former's visit to Paris.
American film producer and creator of Disney World, Walt Disney, holds sheet music with actor Eddy Nelson.
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(Original Caption) Arriving on the Rex is Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse is the animated cartoon character who cavorts his way over the silver sheet much to the delight of America's younger generation.
(Original Caption) Walt Disney learns to do El Gato, one of the colorful and traditional dances of the Argentine countryside. During the survey trip which Disney and a group of his artists made to South America, they spent many hours studying and recording through sketches and photography, the ins and outs of numerous dances and costumes.
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