Disney Animation Legend Ruthie Tompson Dies at 111

Ruthie Tompson, a camera technician and artist known for her prolific work with The Walt Disney Company, has passed away at the age of 111. The news was confirmed in a statement by Disney, which revealed that she died peacefully in her sleep on Sunday, October 10th at the Motion Picture & Television Fund's Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. She worked on a number of iconic films from Disney's Golden Age, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Fantasia, Sleeping Beauty, The Aristocats, and Robin Hood. Her filmography also included the 1978 animated adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, and the 1978 anime film Metamorphoses. She was inducted into the Disney Legend program in 2000.

"Ruthie was a legend among animators, and her creative contributions to Disney-from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to The Rescuers-remain beloved classics to this day," Bob Iger, Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board, The Walt Disney Company, said in a statement. "While we will miss her smile and wonderful sense of humor, her exceptional work and pioneering spirit will forever be an inspiration to us all."

Tompson was born on July 22, 1910 in Portland, Maine, and moved to the California area in 1918. Following her parents' divorce and her mom's remarriage, Tompson moved into a house that was down the block from Walt Disney's uncle, Robert Disney. As a child, Tompson met the Disneys and passed the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio while on her way to school, and she hung out in the office so frequently that she ended up appearing as an extra in the studio's Alice Comedies shorts. 

After graduating high school, Tompson got a job at Dubrock's Riding Academy, where Roy and Walt Disney were learning to play polo. This led to Walt recognizing Tompson and offering her a job as an inker in the animation studio's Ink and Paint department. Tompson's first work as an ink and paint artist was on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a role she also had on Bambi. In 1948, Tompson was promoted to scene planning and animation checking, a role she had on Sleeping Beauty, Donald in Mathmagic Land, Mary Poppins, The Aristocats, Robin Hood, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too, and The Rescuers. This work included both reviewing animation cels before they were preserved on film, and also working in the company's camera department to film animation. In 1952, she made history as one of the first three women to be admitted into the International Photographers Union of IATSE.

Tompson retired for Disney in 1977 shortly after The Rescuers, but was credited working on both Metamorphoses and The Lord of the Rings a year later.

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Our thoughts are with Tompson's family, friends, and fans at this time.