Legendary Disney animator Burny Mattinson has passed away at age 87 after a more than 70-year career. Mattinson began working in uncredited roles during Disney’s Silver Age of animation, with his first job being an inbetweener on Lady and the Tramp six months after graduating from high school. Mattinson would go on to work on some of the biggest animated Disney films of all-time, including Aladdin, The Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, and dozens of others.
In a press release from The Walt Disney Company, it was confirmed that Mattinson passed away on February 27 at Canyon Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Canoga Park, California.
Mattinson was 87, and died following a battle with a short illness. Disney honors Mattinson as being the longest-serving animator at the company, and was due to receive Disney’s first-ever 70th anniversary service award on June 4. Read a comment from Walt Disney Animation Studio’s chief creative officer, Jennifer Lee, below:
“Burny’s artistry, generosity, and love of Disney Animation and the generations of storytellers that have come through our doors, for seven decades, has made us better—better artists, better technologists, and better collaborators. All of us who have had the honor to know him and learn from him will ensure his legacy carries on.”
Burny Mattinson’s Storied Career as a Disney Animator
At the time of his passing, Mattinson was still employed by Walt Disney Animation Studios as a story consultant and mentor. His final film was 2022’s Strange World, which Mattinson was a story artist for. While his more recent works include Tinker Bell, Big Hero 6, and Ralph Breaks the Internet, Mattinson was best known for his work on the story team during the Disney Renaissance. Mattinson was a story artist for such major films as Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, and Tarzan.
Mattinson recalled falling in love with Disney animation after watching Pinocchio in theaters in 1940, and after graduating high school, took his portfolio to Disney in the hopes of getting a job. While his portfolio impressed the Disney security guard, there were no positions available, and Mattinson instead took a job in Disney’s traffic department. From there, he was mentored by other Disney employees, until he rose through the ranks to become the beloved animator, story artist, and director he is known as today.
Not only did Mattinson work on some of Disney’s most successful films of all-time, but he is the only Disney employee to have a continued seven-decades-long career with the company. Mattison was named a Disney Legend in 2008, and passed the previous employee longevity record of 64 years in 2018. Not only will Burny Mattinson be remembered as an incredibly talented animator and artist, but he will forever be known as a vital part of the Walt Disney Company’s historic success.
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