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Ruthie Tompson (1910–2021), pioneering Disney animator on “Snow White,” “Dumbo”

by Linnea Crowther

Ruthie Tompson was one of the earliest Disney animators, who worked on classic movies including “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Pinocchio,” and “Dumbo.”

Disney Legend

Tompson first met Walt Disney and his brother Roy when she was a child who lived near them, then she began working for them as a young woman. She started at the Walt Disney Company as an inker at age 18, working on their groundbreaking 1937 animated film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Tompson went on to work in a variety of positions in animation over a 40-year career at Disney, with a hand in films including “Fantasia,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Mary Poppins,” “Robin Hood,” and “The Rescuers.” She also worked on Disney-produced training films for the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II. Tompson was among the first group of women invited to join the International Photographers Union, Local 659 of the IATSE. She was named a Disney Legend in 2000.

Tompson on growing up around the Disneys

“As a kid, I was fascinated. I’d sit on the bench beside Roy, he had an apple box for me to sit on, and as it got late, he would say ‘I think you’d better go home. Your mother probably wants you to come home for dinner.’ Walt would engage all of the kids in the neighborhood and take pictures of us running and playing and doing things, for animation purposes. He always gave us a quarter or fifty cent piece, and, of course, I went right to the candy store for licorice.” —from a 2010 interview for Disney’s Animation Research Library

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Tributes to Ruthie Tompson

Full obituary: USA Today

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