Ruthie Tompson’s contributions to Disney have not gone unnoticed over her lifetime. From Snow White to The Rescuers, she proved herself to be a dedicated and talented woman. As claimed by Walt Disney’s Co-Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board Bob Iger, “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.” Ruthie has seen Disney evolve from the start to becoming the big production it is now, as she lived a long life of 111 years.
Ruthie lived near Disney Bros Studio in the 1920s. She said, “Once Roy asked us, neighborhood kids, to play tag in the street, while he photographed us with a movie camera,” she said, intimating it was for character studies in movement. “I suppose it was for the Alice Comedies,” she continued. “He paid each of us a quarter, which I was glad for because I could buy licorice” as stated in Deadline. Having this exposure at a young age ignited Ruthie’s interest in Disney, as she went on to become a painter in the studio’s Ink & Paint Development Department. Tompson started her career with Disney at 18 years old, quickly working her way up through the ranks. She is known for her animation work in Snow White, as she helped to create this Disney’s first full-length animated feature. From here, Ruthie went on to work on Disney Classics such as, “Dumbo,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Mary Poppins,” and “The Aristocats” as highlighted in WDTWNT. After the work Ruthe did with these films, she was promoted to the final checker position where she reviewed animation cels before they were photographed onto films, mentioned in Disney Insider. In 1948, Ruthie played a big part in the camera department. She became, “one of the first three women admitted into the International Photographers Union.” This impressive accolade speaks to Ruthie’s skill and hard work.
Ruthie dedicated 40 years to Disney, eventually retiring in the 1970s. She was honored by Disney Legends Program in 2000 for the incredible work that she did throughout her time at Disney. As said by Filmmaker Leslie Iwerks, “Ruthie was a true Disney Legend. As a young girl who began as an ‘extra’ in the 1920s Alice Comedies—she was directed by Walt Disney himself and watched over the shoulders of Roy O. Disney and [Disney Legend] Ub Iwerks, working the silent cameras—and living to 111 years old, she was the one person still alive who had known Walt Disney since his earliest Hollywood years.” Her contributions will always be remembered as monumental, making Disney what it is today.