Ruthie Tompson passed away on Sunday at the Motion Picture and Television Fund in Woodland Hills at 111 years old. The generation Z might not know, Ruthie Tompson, someone who laid the very foundations of Disney. She was amongst the first few people when Disney started. Ruthie was a genius, simply mind-blowingly creative, it is as though inside her mind she lived in a fairytale. Her relationship with Disney dates back to its earliest days.
Walt Disney Co-Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board Bob Iger said in a statement Monday, “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. 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.”
In an interview, Tompson revealed that in the 1920s she lived near the Disney Bros. Studio on Kingswell Avenue.
“Once Roy asked us neighborhood kids to play tag in the street, while he photographed us with a movie camera. I suppose it was for the Alice Comedies, He paid each of us a quarter, which I was glad for because I could buy licorice.”
Later on, Tompson became a painter in the studio’s Ink & Paint department. Her contributions are great to Disney as she was among the first people who had a major role in creating Disney’s first full length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in 1937. With time and her immense eye for creativity, she was later promoted to become the final checker, having the responsibility of reviewing animation cells before they were photographed on to film. (Kids today won’t know how movies were filmed back in the days).
Tompson was also amongst the first three women to join the Hollywood camera union when she was invited to join IATSE Local 659 in 1952.
Some of the greatest works by Tompson in addition to Snow White are some evergreen classics such as Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941), Sleeping Beauty (1959), Mary Poppins (1964), The Aristocats (1970), and Robin Hood (1973).
She was an integral part of Disney, each and every animated feature up till The Rescuers in 1975, after which she retired. However, even after retirement, she didn’t let her creativity go to waste and worked on a few more projects such as Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 version of The Lord of the Rings.
Tompson is survived by a nephew, Pierce Butler III and two nieces Judy Weiss and Calista Tonelli. If you wish to donate in Tompson’s name, you can do that by contributing to the Motion Picture & Television Fund.