Our first female artist of the week is Disney Imagineer Leota Toombs.
In the 1940s, the Walt Disney Studios Ink and Paint Department was made up almost entirely of female artists, collectively producing thousands upon thousands of film cells for films such as Bambi, Pinocchio, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Toombs began her career here in 1940, before working in the Animation Department, and eventually WED Enterprises, now known as Walt Disney Imagineering. Whilst there, she created and developed designs for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, playing crucial roles in the creation of it’s a small world and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Toombs then transferred her talents to some of the most beloved attractions at Disneyland, including Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion.
Alongside her work in Imagineering, Toombs is most widely recognised as the face of The Haunted Mansion’s Madame Leota in perhaps the attraction’s most memorable scene. Appearing in the Séance Room, she conducts an otherworldly séance in her quest to summon spirits and assist them in materializing. Using a spell book she repeats the following verse over and over:
Serpents and spiders, tail of a rat…call in the spirits, wherever they’re at! Rap on a table, it’s time to respond…send us a message from somewhere beyond! Goblins and ghoulies from last Hallowe’en… awaken the spirits with your tambourine! Creepies and crawlies, toads in a pond…let there be music, from regions beyond! Wizards and witches, wherever you dwell…give us a hint, by ringing a bell!
We love Leota for her incredible talent, her incomparable creativity, and her detailed craftsmanship.