Legendary Disney animator Ruthie Tompson passed away peacefully in her sleep at her home at the Motion Picture and Television Fund in Woodland Hills, California on Sunday. She was 111. One of the last living artists who worked on Disney's early features, Tompson began her career as a painter in the Ink and Paint Department at the Walt Disney Studios and worked with the iconic studio giant for nearly 40 years before retiring in 1975. Bob Iger, the executive chairman of The Walt Disney Company, remembered Tompson as "a legend among animators." He said, "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."
Born in Portland, Maine, on July 22, 1910, Ruthie Tompson grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and then moved with her family to California in 1918. She first began her journey at Disney as a painter in the Ink and Paint Department and her role was to implement finishing touches on the studio’s first full-length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). She was quickly promoted and worked as a final checker and scene planner in view of her skills in reviewing animation cels and providing inputs and guidance on camera movement. Her Disney filmography includes features like Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941), Sleeping Beauty (1959), Mary Poppins (1964), The Aristocats (1970) and Robin Hood (1973). In addition, she was one of the first three women to be invited to be a part of the International Photographers Union, Local 659 of the IATSE, in 1952. Tompson was honored in 2000 as a Disney Legend, a distinction awarded to individuals for their contributions to The Walt Disney Company.
Ruthie Tompson received an ovation at last year's D23 ahead of her 110th birthday. She said, "Have fun," and added, "Try to do as much as you can for yourself. Remember all the good things in life." She is survived by two nieces and a nephew.
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