Ruthie Tompson, 111, Disney animator ("Snow White")
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2021-10-16 05:23:02 UTC

First paragraphs:

By Margalit Fox. Oct. 12, 2021

If Snow White looked suitably snowy in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” if Pinocchio’s nose grew at just the right rate, if Dumbo was the correct shade of elephantine gray, all that was due in part to the largely unheralded work of Ruthie Tompson.

One of a cadre of women who in the 1930s and ’40s worked at Disney in indispensable anonymity — and one of its longest-lived members — Ms. Tompson, who died on Sunday at 111, spent four decades at the studio. Over time, she worked on nearly every one of Disney’s animated features, from “Snow White” — Disney’s first, released in 1937 — to “The Rescuers,” released in 1977.

A Disney spokesman, Howard Green, said she died at the Motion Picture and Television Fund’s retirement community in Woodland Hills, Calif., where she had been a longtime resident.

Ms. Tompson joined Disney as an inker and painter. She later trained her eye on the thousands of drawings that make up an animated feature, checking them for continuity of color and line. Still later, as a member of the studio’s scene planning department, she devised exacting ways for its film cameras to bring those flat, static drawings to vivid animated life.

“She made the fantasies come real,” John Canemaker, an Oscar-winning animator and a historian of animation, said in an interview for this obituary in 2017. “The whole setup then was predigital, so everything was paper, camera, film and paint.”...
2021-10-16 05:30:22 UTC

...Among the totemic films into which Ms. Tompson helped breathe life are “Pinocchio” (1940), “Fantasia” (1940) and “Dumbo” (1941), along with countless animated shorts, including the anti-Nazi cartoon “Der Fuehrer’s Face,” which won a 1943 Academy Award.

In 2000, Ms. Tompson was named a Disney Legend, an honor bestowed by the Walt Disney Company for outstanding contributions. (Previous recipients include Fred MacMurray, Julie Andrews and Angela Lansbury; later recipients include Elton John and Tim Conway.)

Her accomplishments were all the more notable in that by her own cheerful admission she could barely draw a straight line. Yet her association with Disney seemed almost foreordained from the time she was very young...