Legendary animator, Ruthie Tompson has passed away at 111 years of age.
Tompson started her career at Disney as an ink and paint artist on Disney’s first animated feature, 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, passed peacefully at her home at the Motion Picture and Television Fund in Woodland Hills, California on Sunday.
The animator also worked on Disney classics such as Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi and Sleeping Beauty, while also becoming one of the first three women to join the International Photographers Union, Local 659 of the IATSE, in 1952. Tompson was born July 22, 1910 in Portland, Maine, and raised in Boston before moving to Oakland when she was eight, and to Los Angeles in 1924, after her mother divorced and re-married.
Tompson ended up living on the same block as Robert Disney, the uncle of Walt and Roy Disney, whose they lived in when they first moved to Los Angeles.
Her home was also quite close to the Disney Bros. Studio on Kingswell Avenue, with Tompson sharing an early memory in her Disney Legend interview in 2000.
At the age of 18, she started working at Dubrock’s Riding Academy, where Walt and Roy Disney often played polo.
Walt remembered Ruthie from when she was a kid, and offered her a job as an inker and then in the Paint Department on the studio’s first animated feature, the iconic 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
She also worked as an ink and paint artist on Bambi in 1942, but during World War II, she was promoted to animation checker, where she worked on training and education films for the U.S. Army featuring Disney characters Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy.
She continued to work as a checker in the 1959 animated short Donald in Mathmagic Land and the TV series Popeye the Sailor and moved up through the ranks, working as a scene planner on movies such as Mary Poppins, The Aristocats, Robin Hood, and The Rescuers.
She retired from the studio in 1975, and went on to work on Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings animated film and Metamorphoses, both in 1978.
Tompson also worked for an in-house television channel at the Motion Picture & Television Fund Country House, where she lived for several years.
She was named a Disney Legend for her nearly four decades of work at the studio back in 2000.
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