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Ruthie Tompson, legendary Disney animator on 'Snow White' and 'Pinocchio,' dies at 111

Ruthie Tompson, a trailblazing Disney animator who worked on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Pinocchio" and countless other animated features during her 40-year tenure with the company, has died at age 111.

Tompson "passed away peacefully in her sleep" on Sunday at her home at the Motion Picture and Television Fund in Woodland Hills, California, the Walt Disney Company announced Monday in a statement.

She accomplished a lot in her lifetime, becoming one of the first three women invited to join the International Photographers Union, Local 659 of the IATSE, in 1952. Tompson was also recognized as the employee with the longest history with founders Walt and Roy Disney and she was inducted into the Disney Legend Hall of Fame in 2000 for her extraordinary contributions to The Walt Disney Company.

Former Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger called Tompson a "legend among animators."

"Her creative contributions to Disney – from 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' to 'The Rescuers'— remain beloved classics to this day," Iger said in a statement shared on Twitter. "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 on July 22, 1910, in Portland, Maine, Tompson grew up in Boston before she relocated in the 1920s with her family to Los Angeles, near Walt and Roy Disney‘s first animation studio.

"I used to walk by the Disney Bros. storefront," Tompson recalled in a 2010 oral history with Disney’s Animation Research Library. "I did it so often that somebody came out and said, ‘Why don’t’ you go inside and watch them?’ I think it was Walt because he roamed around quite a bit."

Tompson continued: "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.'"

She said Walt Disney offered her a job as a painter in the Ink and Paint Department at age 18, where she helped work on the company's first full-length animated feature, 1937's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

"We worked into the night, day after day, until we got it exactly right!" she told The Hollywood Reporter in 2020 about the film. Over the years, she said, it became her favorite film to revisit.

Throughout the course of her nearly 40-year career with Disney, Tompson worked on numerous feature films including "Pinocchio" (1940), "Fantasia" (1940), "Dumbo" (1941), "Sleeping Beauty" (1959), "Mary Poppins" (1964), "The Aristocats" (1970) and "Robin Hood" (1973). She retired in 1975 after completing "The Rescuers" (1977).

"It is always my Disney experience that is filled with truly unforgettable memories," she previously said. "Mickey Mouse and I grew up together."

According to the statement from Disney, Tompson is survived by two nieces, Judy Weiss and Calista Tonelli, and one nephew, Pierce Butler III.

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by Anonymousreply 23October 13, 2021 2:46 AM

Was she the oldest lesbian ever?

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by Anonymousreply 1October 12, 2021 8:52 PM

So young...

by Anonymousreply 2October 12, 2021 8:52 PM

Who wants to be 111? At this rate by the time I’m that age the US will probably end up like Brazil.

by Anonymousreply 3October 12, 2021 8:53 PM

It’s very strange for me because I don’t want to ever die but I also would never want to be 111 either.

by Anonymousreply 4October 12, 2021 9:00 PM

R4, usually people like Ruthie have purpose in their lives.

There is a certain mindset and outlook on life that most centenarians have, which contribute to their longevity. Most actually like living that long.

For those who don't, I'm guessing that it contributes to their early demise.

by Anonymousreply 5October 12, 2021 9:05 PM

So much life ahead of her. Sad. 😭

by Anonymousreply 6October 12, 2021 9:09 PM

At 111 years old. One is no longer in the category of VERY old you are now EXTREMELY old.

by Anonymousreply 7October 12, 2021 9:14 PM

So young.

by Anonymousreply 8October 12, 2021 9:16 PM

Cause of death?

by Anonymousreply 9October 12, 2021 9:17 PM

[quote] Tompson "passed away peacefully in her sleep" on Sunday at her home at the Motion Picture and Television Fund in Woodland Hills, California

What's this?

I've never heard of it.

Does Disney run a retirement home for former employees of the company?

by Anonymousreply 10October 12, 2021 9:18 PM

[quote]Tompson "passed away peacefully in her sleep" on Sunday at her home at the Motion Picture and Television Fund in Woodland Hills, California.

Anyone in the industry from stagehand to cameramen to animators are eligible to live at the home.

by Anonymousreply 11October 12, 2021 9:20 PM

Can you imagine Madonna at 111? She’d still be pretending to be 38.

by Anonymousreply 12October 12, 2021 9:22 PM

Wow R11, that's so cool.

Do they pay rent, or is everything subsidized?

by Anonymousreply 13October 12, 2021 9:24 PM

I think she was lying about her age. She was likely 116!

by Anonymousreply 14October 12, 2021 9:38 PM

Yeah I think the Hollywood retirement home has been around for a long time.

by Anonymousreply 15October 12, 2021 9:45 PM

now you you'll know who Jean Hersholt was!

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by Anonymousreply 16October 12, 2021 9:57 PM

Thanks, R16.

Imagining living on the dole until you're 111.

Now that's working the "long con."

by Anonymousreply 17October 12, 2021 9:59 PM

Can I have her figurines?

by Anonymousreply 18October 12, 2021 10:39 PM

I'm amazed at how long people are living now...wow. What what the cause?

by Anonymousreply 19October 13, 2021 2:00 AM

What *was... ugh....^^

by Anonymousreply 20October 13, 2021 2:06 AM

Read her obituary in the NYT. She was devoted to animation. Fascinating life.

by Anonymousreply 21October 13, 2021 2:29 AM

RIP, Ruthie.

I think that, sometimes, people are just “ready” and they decide to go. I can imagine getting to that point, where you’re just like “Okay, I’m good. Take me now.”

by Anonymousreply 22October 13, 2021 2:39 AM


by Anonymousreply 23October 13, 2021 2:46 AM
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