Saturday, October 16, 2021

Godspeed Disney Animator Ruthie Tompson

Ruthie Tompson, who worked for The Walt Disney Company from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) to The Rescuers (1977), died on October 10 2021 at the age of 111.

Ruthie Tompson was born on July 22 1910 in Portland, Maine. She spent part of her childhood in Boston, Massachusetts. She was eight years old when her family moved to Oakland, California. Her parents divorced in 1924 and her mother remarried. The family then moved to Los Angeles, where one of their neighbours was Robert Disney, the uncle of Walt Disney. She then knew Walt and Roy Disney when she was a child and visited the offices of their animation studio many times.

When Ruthie Tompson was 18 she went to work at Dubrock's Riding Academy, where Walt and Roy Disney played polo. Walt Disney then offered her a job as an inker at his studio. She was later transferred to the Paint Department, She worked on Disney's groundbreaking feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Eventually she became the final checker at Disney, checking the animation cels before they were transferred to film. By 1948 she worked in Disney's camera department, and she was one of the first three women in the International Photographers Union, Local 659 of the IATSE. Eventually she became the supervisor of the screen planning department. In addition to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Ruthie Tompson also worked on Bambi (1942), Sleeping Beauty (1959), Mary Poppins (1964), The AristoCats (1970), Robin Hood (1973), and The Rescuers (1977). She worked for Disney for nearly forty years.

Miss Tompson also did some work outside Disney. She was a checker on five shorts from the 1960 television revival of Popeye the Sailor. After retiring from Disney she worked as a scene planner on Metamorphoses (1978) and as an ink and paint supervisor on Lord of the Rings (1978).

Ruthie Tompson was the oldest member of Women in Animation, the non-profit group dedicated to  female animators. In 2000 she was named a Disney Legend. In 2017 she was honoured with an Academy Award for her contributions to the animation industry.

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