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Disney Animation Legend Ruthie Tompson Dies at 111

Legendary Disney animator Ruthie Tompson, known for many of Disney’s most iconic and pioneering animated films, has passed away at the age of 111.

Ruthie Tompson, a longtime Disney animator who worked on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, among many other titles, has died at the age of 111. Tompson, born in 1910, was the last person alive to have known and worked closely with Walt Disney in the formative years of his Hollywood career. She worked at The Walt Disney Company for over forty years in various roles and helped to create many of the studio’s most iconic films, including Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1940), Dumbo (1941), Sleeping Beauty (1959), Mary Poppins (1964), The Aritocats (1970), and Robin Hood (1973).

She began her job at Disney as a painter after befriending Walt and Roy Disney at a polo club in the San Fernando Valley. The first film she contributed to was Disney’s first feature-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which began production in 1934, taking almost three years to complete. It didn’t take long for Tompson to earn a promotion from painter to final checker, where she ensured the quality of each animation cel before filming began. She was then promoted to scene planner, where she spent most of her career at Disney.

Related: The One Thing That Separates Classic Disney Princess Movies From Modern Princesses

In a statement from The Walt Disney Company, Tompson is revealed to have passed away peacefully in her sleep on October 11th. Tompson, who was 111, lived in the Motion Picture and Television Fund retirement complex in Los Angeles. The legendary Disney employee is remembered fondly by former colleagues and current Disney executives, including Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board, Bob Iger. Read Iger’s complete statement below:

“Ruthie was a legend among animators, and her creative contributions to Disney—from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to The Rescuers—remain beloved classics to this day. 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.”


Similarly, filmmaker Leslie Iwerks, daughter of celebrated Disney animator Ub Iwerks, remembers her kinship with Tompson, a close family friend. “Ruthie and I had great times together; she was fun, wacky, sharp as a whip, talented, and a dear friend to our Iwerks family,” Iwerks remembers. For her outstanding contributions to Disney and her status as an employee with one of the longest histories with Walt and Roy O. Disney, Tompson was honored to be named a Disney Legend.

The films Tompson worked on and helped create are some of the most important and iconic films of the 20th century. The impact of movies like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, one of the first full-length animated features the world had ever seen, cannot be understated and paved the way for the animated films of today. Outside of their significance to the filmmaking world, many of the animated films Ruthie Tompson worked on shaped – and continue to shape – the most formative years of countless children growing up all over the world. Tompson is survived by a nephew, Pierce Butler III, and two nieces, Calista Tonelli and Judy Weiss.

More: Best Animated Movies On Disney+

Source: The Walt Disney Company

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