Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Happy 107th Birthday Disney Legend Ruthie Tompson

Today marked the 107th birthday of Disney legend Ruthie Tompson. She is best remembered today for her work in the animation camera department and her work on every Disney animated feature up to The Rescuers (before retiring in 1975). Despite this though her work with Walt began much earlier. As a little girl she lived in Hollywood next to the original Disney Brother's studio during the mid-1920's when Walt was making his series of Alice Comedy shorts. These shorts involved a live action little girl entering a cartoon world. Before the animated sequences these films would feature live action wraparounds. Ruthie got to appear in some of these and the Disney brothers (Walt and Roy) would get neighborhood kids to appear in the films for a quarter (Ruthie bought licorice with these quarters as she recalls).

Ruthie would become a full time Disney employee because she got a job (at 18 years old) at Dubrock’s Riding Academy. Walt and his brother Roy often played polo there and Walt would end up offering her a job as an painter. One of her earliest assignments was to put some finishing touches on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It wasn't long until she moved up to being an animation checker. By 1948, she would also enter the area of scene planning. Bob Broughton, who worked in the studios animation camera department would later marvel at how good she was at working with a camera. One of her most accomplished works was to find a way to make Mickey Mouse fully turn on screen.

She is still alive today living in Motion Picture and Television Fund retirement home in Woodland Hills. She still enjoys herself by reading and making movies on her phone. Appropriately she spent today at Disneyland.

-Michael J. Ruhland

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