A sad day for Disney fans as one of Disney’s first female artists and female heads, Ruthie Tompson, has passed away at age 111.
Born in Portland, Maine in July of 1910 her family moved to Boston, Massachusetts where she spent much of her childhood. In 1924 her parents divorced and her mother remarried and they moved to Los Angeles. Their home was on the same block as the house of Walt Disney’s uncle Robert Disney, which is where Walt and his bother Roy lived during the time. She first met the Disney brothers when her family visited Robert after he had a new baby.
The Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio was on her way to school and she would often peak through. She was eventually invited in, after stopping by multiple times, while they were developing the Alice Comedies. She even appeared in some.
Years later at age 18 she started working at a Polo course where Roy and Walt would play. Walt recognized her and offered her a job as an inker. Later on she eventually moved to the paint department.
Her first major project was on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Later she worked on many projects including: Lonesome Ghosts, Pinocchio, Fantasia and Dumbo.
After working on several films she was promoted to being the Final Checker where she would inspect and evaluate each animation cell before it was photographed.
Eventually Tompson moved to the Camera Department in 1948, working on camera tricks. She would go on to be a scene planner on films like Sleeping Beauty, Mary Poppins, The Aristocats, Robin Hood, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too and The Rescuers. She retired from film making in 1975 after working at Disney for 40 years.
In 2000 she was honored as a Disney Legend, as well as being honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in 2017 for her contributions to animation. In 2020 she became a supercentenarian for reaching age 110.
She has now sadly passed away at age 111, from natural causes.
Her contributions to animation should not be overlooked, being one of the first influential women in animation as well as one of the first female heads at the Walt Disney company, appointed by Walt Disney himself.
She is another great example no matter who you are or where you come from you can achieve great things.
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