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Milton Quon, Early Disney Animator, Dies At 105


A moment to remember one of the early Disney studio animators - Milton Quon died last month at the age of 105.

MIKE QUON: He lived every moment of it with family and art. And I think we are left with a lot of great memories. And as often the case is, you especially miss them when they're gone.


That's Milton Quon's eldest son, Mike. He followed in his father's footsteps and is now an artist.

KELLY: Milton Quon was born in Los Angeles 1913, the son of Chinese immigrants. His family says he always loved drawing. And it was an uncle who encouraged him to pursue a career in art. His mom was not so keen on that idea. Quon started as a graphic designer, which led to the job at Disney. He was one of the first Chinese Americans to work there, and he had a hand in some of the studio's best-known films. Here's Mike again.

M QUON: I think he was really proud of the work he did on "Fantasia." He did a number of the Chinese mushrooms and the goldfish and the sugar plum fairies scene.

KELLY: Milton Quon thought the way things were done back then was far superior to today's computer-generated animation. Another son, Jeff Quon, recalls how his dad would compare the two.

JEFF QUON: He would always tell me - he says, people don't understand that they didn't even have copy machines that time. So everything - all the scenes, like, in your Disneyland flipbook - they had to be done by hand. Unlike digital animation, which everything is so slick, the movements of people, whether it's Mickey Mouse or Bambi, are much more lifelike.

CORNISH: Milton Quon was not just a Disney artist. He did graphic design for ad firms, and he acted. He had bit roles in the 1994 film "Speed" and in the TV show "NYPD Blue." Through it all, he kept creating art, sometimes collaborating with son Mike.

M QUON: We did do some projects together where we - you know, I would send him some drawings that were half-finished, and he would complete them.

KELLY: The family's written an obituary notice. They quote Milton Quon as saying the secret to his longevity was, quote, "a good wife and Chinese food." Mike Quon says that may be true, but his dad also ate oatmeal and even the occasional McDonald's burger.

CORNISH: Milton Quon died June 18 in Torrance, Calif. The longtime Disney animator was 105 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF DEEB'S "AZALEA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.