Ruthie Tompson
Ruth Irene Tompson

(1910-07-22)July 22, 1910
Died(2021-10-10)October 10, 2021
(aged 111 years, 80 days)
Occupation(s)Camera technician, animation checker
Years activeBetween 1923 and 1927–1978
Known forThe Walt Disney Company
Notable work
AwardsDisney Legend, 2000

Ruth Irene Tompson[1] (July 22, 1910 – October 10, 2021) was an American camera technician, animation checker and supercentenarian.[2] She was known for her work on animated features at The Walt Disney Company and was declared a Disney Legend in 2000.[3]


Ruth Irene Tompson was born on July 22, 1910, in Portland, Maine, and raised in Boston, Massachusetts.[4] She then moved with her family to Oakland, California, in November 1918 at age eight.[5] She experienced the 1918 influenza pandemic near the end of World War I.[6] 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.[7]

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 were going home for dinner.[7][6] 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 standing outside and watching them work through the window. She visited the office often and ended up appearing in the Alice Comedies.[7][8][6]

At the age of 18, Tompson started working at Dubrock's Riding Academy, where Roy and Walt Disney often played polo.[9] Walt Disney remembered Tompson from when she was young and offered her a job as an inker.[9] After training as an inker, Tompson was transferred to the Paint Department,[10][6] where she helped with Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.[7] 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.[10] By 1948, Tompson was working in the camera department, developing camera moves and mechanics to shoot animation.[11] 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.[10]

Tompson retired in 1975 after working for The Walt Disney Company for almost 40 years.[2][12] In retirement, she worked for an in-house television channel at the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF) Country House where she lived.[9][13] Tompson was the oldest member of Women in Animation.[14][15] In 2000, Tompson was honored by the Disney Legends program and received the Disney Legends Award for her work at the Walt Disney Studios.[16] 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.[17][18]

Tompson died in her sleep at her home in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, on October 10, 2021, at the age of 111 years, 80 days. At the time of her death she was the last known living person to have been involved in any capacity with the making of the first four Disney films Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia and Dumbo.[19][20][21]



  1. ^ Johnson, Mindy (July 22, 2020). "A Monumental Birthday!". mindyjohnsoncreative.
  2. ^ a b c "Ruthie Tompson". D23. Disney. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Fox, Margalit (October 12, 2021). "Ruthie Tompson Dies at 111; Breathed Animated Life Into Disney Films". The New York Times. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  4. ^ Ghez, Didier (September 30, 2011). Walt's People –: Talking Disney with the Artists who Knew Him. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 9781465368416 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Rice, Nicholas (October 17, 2021). "Legendary Disney Animator Ruthie Tompson Dies at 111: She 'Will Forever Inspire Us,' Says Bob Iger". Retrieved October 19, 2021.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Ghez, Didier (2011). Walt's people. talking Disney with the artists who knew him. United States: Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 978-1465368409.
  9. ^ a b c Baum, Gary; Abramovitch, Seth (April 23, 2015). "102-Year-Old Hollywood Vet: Walt Disney Hired Me After I Snooped on His Studio". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Johnson, Mindy (October 9, 2017). "Remarkable Ruthie". Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  12. ^ Schwartz, Dana. "108-year-old Disney legend Ruthie Tompson shares her memories of Walt, and the secret to longevity". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  13. ^ King, Susan (April 18, 2011). "TV neighbors". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  14. ^ Flores, Terry (August 12, 2015). "Harvard Undergrad Receives Scholarship From 105-Year-Old Women in Animation Vet". Variety. Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  15. ^ Dador, Denise (September 20, 2017). "Disney legend and centenarian, Ruthie Tompson, shares her longevity secrets". ABC 7. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  16. ^ "Welcome to Disney Mamas!!". Disney Mamas. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  17. ^ Dador, Denise (September 20, 2017). "Disney legend and centenarian, Ruthie Tompson, shares her longevity secrets". ABC 7. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "Remembering Disney Legend Ruthie Tompson". The Walt Disney Company. October 11, 2021. Archived from the original on October 11, 2021.
  20. ^ Michaelsen, Shannen (October 11, 2021). "Disney Legend Ruthie Thompson Passes Away at Age 111". WDW News Today. Archived from the original on October 11, 2021.
  21. ^ Barnes, Mike (October 11, 2021). "Ruthie Tompson, Legend of Disney Animation, Dies at 111". The Hollywood Reporter.
  22. ^ a b Schwartz, Dana (August 17, 2018). "108-year-old Disney legend Ruthie Tompson shares her memories of Walt, and the secret to longevity". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  23. ^ a b c Anderson, Jenna (October 11, 2021). "Disney Animation Legend Ruthie Tompson Dies at 111". Pop Culture Media. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  24. ^ a b c d e Pulver, Andrew (October 12, 2021). "Ruthie Tompson, pioneering Disney animator, dies aged 111". The Guardian. London. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  25. ^ Treisman, Rachel (October 12, 2021). "Ruthie Tompson, an animator with the longest history at Disney, dies at 111". NPR. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  26. ^ Iwerks, Leslie; Kenworthy, John (April 23, 2001). The Hand Behind the Mouse. Disney Editions. p. 148. ISBN 9780786853205.
  27. ^ "Ruth Tompson List of Movies and TV Shows". TV Guide. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  28. ^ PogieJoe Productions (July 3, 2020). 110-Year-Old Ruthie Tompson Tells Us About Making Snow White – NOT-SO SMALL WORLD. YouTube. Retrieved October 12, 2021.