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Ruth Irene Tompson was an American ink artist, photographer, and camera technician, who worked on many Disney films, like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Dumbo, Sleeping Beauty, and Robin Hood.

Tompson was born on July 22, 1910 in Portland, Maine and raised in Boston, Massachusetts before her family moved to Oakland, California in November 1918. Over time, she soon moved to Los Angeles and her house was in the same block as the house of Robert Disney, uncle of Walt Disney, where he and his brother Roy lived when they first came to Los Angeles. She would often visit the brothers at their studio and even appeared in the Alice Comedies as a result.

At the age of 18, while working at Dubrock's Riding Academy, where Roy and Walt Disney often played polo, she was offered her a job as an inker. After training as an inker, Tompson was transferred to the Ink and Paint Department, where she helped with cartoon shorts and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She continued working until being promoted to animation checker during World War II, a time in which many women assumed roles traditionally held by men, where she reviewed animation cels before they were photographed onto film. She also helped produce training and educational videos for the U.S. Army that featured signature Disney characters Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy.

By 1948, Tompson was working in the camera department, developing camera moves and mechanics to shoot animation. She became one of the first three women admitted into the International Photographers Union, Local 659 of the IATSE in 1952. Tompson continued to work through the studio ranks, eventually becoming the supervisor of the screen planning department.

Outside of Disney, Tompson worked on a 1960s reboot of Popeye the Sailor and the films The Lord of the Rings and Metamorphoses.

Tompson was forced retire in 1975 after working for The Walt Disney Company for almost 40 years. In retirement, she worked for an in-house television channel at the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF) Country House where she lived. In 2000, Tompson was honored as a Disney Legend for her contributions to the studio. 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 after participating in a web interview.

Tompson died on October 10, 2021, at the age of 111.

Disney Filmography[]

Year Film Position
1937 Lonesome Ghosts Ink and paint - uncredited
1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Ink and paint - uncredited
1938 Mother Goose Goes Hollywood Ink and Paint - uncredited
1938 Brave Little Tailor Ink and Paint - uncredited
1940 Pinocchio Ink and Paint - uncredited
1940 Fantasia Ink and Paint - uncredited
1941 Dumbo Ink and Paint - uncredited
1942 Bambi Ink and Paint - uncredited
1951 Alice in Wonderland Scene Planner - uncredited
1959 Donald in Mathmagic Land Scene planner - uncredited
1959 Sleeping Beauty Animation checker
Scene planner - uncredited
1961 One Hundred and One Dalmatians Scene planner
1964 Mary Poppins Scene planner - uncredited
1967 The Jungle Book Scene planner - uncredited
1970 The Aristocats Scene planner - uncredited
1973 Robin Hood Scene planning supervisor - uncredited
1974 Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too Scene planner - uncredited
1977 The Rescuers Head of scene planning - uncredited (Early Stages)
1999 The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story Special thanks

External links[]

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