Friday, 6 August 2010

Cy Young - Chinese Animator

 I'm very happy at the moment - today I recieved an e-mail reply from a generous person named Joe Campana, and he brought me great info I needed to know, and that's on the Chinese-animator, Cy Young.
(Photo of Cy Young - picture from on John Canemaker's book Paper Dreams, he seems to look a lot happier than I imagined)
Some of you people might know that I've always been trying to find info on Cy Young, and I've appreaciated the works based on the draft posted by Hans Perk, and when I first heard the info on him in an article on Toons at War, the man quickly caught my attention, and I've always tried to research and find a picture on that man, but I've never suceeded, and it always came up with that baseball player who's also called Cy Young, and I've tried to ask some people like Hans and others, and I had no luck from them, until Joe had more info of him which is great. Let's get started!! Many thanks Joe! Full credit goes to you! :)
Cyrus S. Young was born from Chinese parents in Hawaii in 1900, and I don't know about his childhood, but he started his animation career in 1924 at the Bray Studio and one of the films, Cy created was Mendelssohn's Spring Song in 1931, which is available on YouTube, and in 1934 he married a woman named Dorolees until a year later they were divorced I believe, but the same year in 1935, Cy was remarried to Roberta 'Betty' Cole and they were married up until Cy's death, I don't know whenever Cy had any children! Around 1934, Cy Young went to work for Walt Disney and opened up the Special Effects Department and was paired up with an Italian artist named Ugo D'Orsi, and in Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston's book 'The Illusion of Life' they wrote:
Throughout the early thirties, the entire Effects Departent consisted of only two men: Ugo D'Orsi, a straightforward, stubborn and dedicated Italian and Cy Young, a quiet and sensitive but equally stubborn Chinese who loved to play the bass-fiddle as a hobby. Both spoke with such accents that most of the staff had difficulty understanding what they were saying, and comunication between the two was almost impossible, especially when tempers flared. Since they did most of the careful work themselves, they needed only a single assistant between them!

At the time, [Young and D'Orsi] did some of the greatest effects in Disney animation ever!, and by 1935, more effect animators got the job at Disney's, and by 1939, Josh Meador took over the effects department after the great water effects he did on Pinocchio, and Cy Young still contributed to animation.
Cy Young started work on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and he recieved screen credit as animator, and he did a scene of the dwarves' clock striking bedtime, or some of the butterflies flittering around the dwarves house, Cy did beautiful work on the film...however, I read somewhere in some of the Story meetings that Cy Young is known to have attended some of the Pinocchio meetings, but he did not get screen-credit or is known to have done any work.
Probably one of Cy Young's famous pieces of animation was animating the blossoms dancing and landing into a pond from the Nutcracker Suite section in Fantasia, and as Thomas and Johnston described that only an extremely sensitive artist could have animated this, on Dumbo he got one sequence and that was the beautiful animation of the storks delivering babies to the circus, and Cy animated the bundles dropping into parachutes! Cy Young was assigned to work with German filmaker Oskar Fischinger on the Tocatta and Fudge section in Fantasia, although their relationships was rather strained.
(Production drawing of the dancing blossoms by Cy Young)
There's some more info on Cy on John Canemaker's Paper Dreams and Shamus Culhane's Talking Animals and Others, they describe the relationships that Cy had with others, and it seems that Cy Young made a number of enemies at the studio and sabotaged an animator on Fantasia. Cy Young never really seem to get on with other people at the studios - probably because that he didn't understand English well.
It seems that Cy had worked under the director Samuel Armstrong and layout artist Bob Cormack (via segments in Fantasia, deleted segment of Fantasia Claire de Lune, Stork Sequence in Dumbo, backgrounds on The Old Mill, etc.)
Cy Young was fired on May 28, 1941 (a day before the infamous Disney strike), during the summer of that year, Young returned to work for a short while, and then he was fired for good. After the strike, Cy went on to work as a staff artist on the armed services during World War II, and after the war, Cy worked as a clerk for the Air Force, there's an illustration of Cy Young done in 1943, which is from the site Toons at War.
Cy Young wasn't the only Asian artist in the Studio around the 1930's/1940's, they had Bambi background-painter Tyrus Wong, and another artist named Bob Kuwahara.
Sadly, Cy Young apparently committed suicide in January 16, 1964 after an overdose with pills, he was cremated and his ashes interred at Chapel of the Pines of Los Angeles, there's a photo to go with it. That is a shame for such a talented effect animator.
(Click on the picture for Cy's memorial)


Eric Noble said...

Fascinating. I love hearing the stories about the lesser-known talents at the studio. Fantastic article. I will have to favorite this site.

Steven Hartley said...

Thanks for the comment, Eric - I thought this article deserved comments, because most of us animation fans have not seen this much info.

Thank for your the positive comment, I do what I'm best at and I try to write a great article, and getting some acclaim!!

Eric Noble said...

You're very welcome Steven. I truly enjoy what you write.

BTW, my avatar is the ginger colored wizard from Ralph Bakshi's Wizards. The character's name is Avatar.

Steven Hartley said...

Right, thanks for your knowledge on Avatar, I've seen bits of Baskhi's 'Wizards', and one of my older sister's boyfriend works in the Special Effects industry in England (where I live), and he told me about 'Wizards', and he thought it was a bit weird and creepy when he saw it, and when I took a look at it, it was a tiny biy creepy, and when I saw the ginger-beard wizard named Avatar, the wizard reminded me of your profile picture!

I find Bashki's work a bit too dark, and his 'Lord of the Rings' adaptation is a bit (weird), but the animation is original!

Kevin Kyburz said...

"Cy Young never really seem to get on with other people at the studios - probably because that he didn't understand English well."

I think, you're wrong. Dick Huemer said, Cy Young was "perfectly literate". This quote and some more interesting facts about Young were posted by Michael Barrier here:

Yan Chen said...

My name is Yan Chen and I'm a PHD student from the Interdisciplinary Culture Studies department of Univ of Tokyo. I'm current working on a thesis on CY Young and I found your blog very helpful. I followed your lead and went to chapel of the pines LA but couldn't find Young's urn. Would you please confirm the address of the location you took this picture? It would greatly benefit my study.

Jo said...

So far as I know (reading from Chinese animation history), Cyrus Young (Chinese name Zuotao Yang) was born and educated in China until 1923. Maybe this could explain the communication barrier?
You article is very helpful tho. It's difficult to find information about him in western website.