Ruthie Tompson

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Ruthie Tompson
Born (1910-07-22) July 22, 1910 (age 111)
  • Artist
  • photographer
  • former camera technician
Known forThe Walt Disney Company
Notable work
AwardsDisney Legend, 2000

Ruthie Tompson (born July 22, 1910)[1] is an American former camera technician, artist, and supercentenarian.[2] She is known for her work on animated features at The Walt Disney Company.


Early life[edit]

Ruthie Tompson was born on July 22, 1910 in Portland, Maine and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She then moved with her family to Oakland, California in November 1918 at age eight. She experienced the 1918 influenza pandemic near the end of World War I.[3] In 1924, her parents divorced and her mother, Arlene, remarried artist John Roberts. The family relocated to Los Angeles and their house was in the same block as the house of Robert Disney, uncle of Walt Disney. This is where Roy and Walt Disney lived when they first came to Los Angeles.[4]

Walt Disney company[edit]

As she stated in an interview, Tompson first met the Disneys when she visited her neighbor Robert's new baby. She recalls sitting on an apple box until her parents said they'll be going home for dinner.[4][3] The location of The Walt Disney Company, then known as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, was not far from her home – she passed it on her way to grammar school. She was invited into the office after many times of standing outside and watching them work through the window. She visited the office often and ended up appearing in the Alice Comedies.[4][5][3]

At the age of 18, Tompson started working at Dubrock's Riding Academy, where Roy and Walt Disney often played polo.[6] Walt Disney remembered Tompson from when she was young and offered her a job as an Inker.[6] After training as an Inker, Tompson was transferred to the Paint Department,[7][3] where she helped with Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.[4] After working on several other Disney films, Tompson was promoted to Final Checker position where she reviewed animation cels before they were photographed onto film. Tompson continued working for Disney and was promoted to Animation Checker during WWII, where she worked on training and education films, for the U.S Armed Forces, starring Disney characters such as Mickey, Donald Duck and Goofy.[7] By 1948, Tompson was working in the Camera Department, developing camera moves and mechanics to shoot animation.[8] She became one of the first three women admitted into the International Photographers Union, Local 659 of the IATSE.[2] Tompson continued to work through the studio ranks, eventually becoming the supervisor of the Screen Planning Department.[7]

Tompson retired in 1975 after working for The Walt Disney Company for almost 40 years.[2][9] In retirement, she works for an in-house television channel at the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF) Country House where she lives.[6][10] Tompson is the oldest member of Women in Animation.[11][12] In 2000, Tompson was honored by the Disney Legends program and received the Disney Legends Award for her work at the Walt Disney Studios.[13] In 2017, Tompson was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for her contributions to the animation industry. In July 2020, Tompson became a supercentenarian and celebrities including Whoopi Goldberg wished her a happy birthday.[14][15]



  1. ^ Profile of Ruthie Tompson
  2. ^ a b c "Ruthie Tompson". D23. Disney. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Baum, Gary (July 22, 2020). "Ruthie Tompson, Disney Animation Pioneer, Turns 110 in Quarantine". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Susanin, Timothy S. (2011). Walt before Mickey: Disney's early years, 1919–1928. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1604739602.
  5. ^ Ghez, Didier (2011). Walt's people. talking Disney with the artists who knew him. United States: Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 978-1465368409.
  6. ^ a b c Baum, Gary; Abramovitch, Seth. "102-Year-Old Hollywood Vet: Walt Disney Hired Me After I Snooped on His Studio". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Johnson, Mindy (2017). Ink and Paint The Women of Walt Disney's Animation. Los Angeles: Disney Editions, an import of Disney Book Group. pp. 45, 101, 122, 196, 201, 212, 242. ISBN 978-1-4847-2781-2.
  8. ^ Johnson, Mindy (October 9, 2017). "Remarkable Ruthie". Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  9. ^ Schwartz, Dana. "108-year-old Disney legend Ruthie Tompson shares her memories of Walt, and the secret to longevity". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  10. ^ King, Susan (18 April 2011). "TV neighbors". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  11. ^ Flores, Terry. "Harvard Undergrad Receives Scholarship From 105-Year-Old Women in Animation Vet". Variety. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  12. ^ Dador, Denise (20 September 2017). "Disney legend and centenarian, Ruthie Tompson, shares her longevity secrets". ABC 7. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Welcome to Disney Mamas!!". Disney Mamas. Retrieved 2019-04-30.
  14. ^ Dador, Denise (20 September 2017). "Disney legend and centenarian, Ruthie Tompson, shares her longevity secrets". ABC 7. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  15. ^ Nasir, Leena (July 23, 2020). "Whoopi Goldberg Wishes Happy 110th Birthday To Disney Animator Of 'Sleeping Beauty' And 'LOTR'". The Things. Retrieved July 25, 2020.

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