Lee Blair won a gold medal for the U.S. in the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles without ever training in a gym, on a track or in a pool.
Blair's event: watercolor painting.
Although nearly forgotten, the Olympics held from 1912 through 1948 included arts competitions, with the winners receiving the same gold, silver and bronze medals as the athletes.
In addition to Blair's category -- he won for a watercolor called "Rodeo" -- there were medals for oil painting, sculpture, architecture, music and literature.
Blair, a Los Angeles native who died in 1993, went on to other successes after winning his medal at age 20. He worked for Disney on several films, including "Fantasia," for which he helped design the dancing alligators. He also created some of the hallmark commercials of early television, including one starring a perky percolator for Maxwell House coffee.
According to family members, he never gave up the dream of being recognized as a great artist. But in his later years, he seldom spoke of his gold medal.
"I don't remember Uncle Lee ever once mentioning it," said his niece, Jeanne Chamberlain. In fact, she had never seen the medal -- until three weeks ago.
In the wake of the death of Blair's son, Kevin, Chamberlain was going through family documents stored in a safe deposit box in Northern California. She pushed aside some papers and found a thin, cardboard box.
"I opened it up, and there was the gold medal," said Chamberlain, 74.