Tyrus Wong – Pioneer

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Tyrus Wong – at 9 years old interrogated mercilessly at Angel Island in 1920 became a real pioneer for his family, his culture, his vocation – and his adopted country.

“I was scared half to death; I just cried,” Mr. Wong recalled in “Tyrus,” an award-winning documentary directed by Pamela Tom, which premiered in 2015. “Every day is just miserable — miserable. I hated that place.”

On Jan. 27, 1921, in the presence of an interpreter and a stenographer, young Gen Yeo, posing as Look Tai Yow, wasinterrogated by three inspectors. His father had already been questioned.

Gen Yeo was well prepared and answered without error. In Sacramento, where he joined his father, a schoolteacher Americanized “Tai Yow” to “Tyrus,” and he was known as Tyrus Wong ever after.


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