The animation industry has lost a pioneer. Burny Mattinson, who has worked with Walt Disney Animation Studios on several esteemed projects over the years, has passed away at the age of 87. According to The Walt Disney Company in an official statement, he had passed after a short and undisclosed illness. Working across several departments in the animation company, he worked at The Walt Disney Company for almost 70 years and was due to receive a one-of-a-kind award on June 4, 2023. He is survived by his wife, as well as the families of his son and daughter.
"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," wrote Walt Disney Animation chief creative director Jennifer Lee. "All of us who have had the honor to know him and learn from him will ensure his legacy carries on."
According to Disney, there was a reason why Mattinson had stayed at the company for as long as he did. His love for animation allegedly formed after seeing "Pinocchio" in theaters, building his skills over the years before he arrived at Walt Disney Studios with a lengthy drawing portfolio and no professional experience. Despite his unexpected arrival, Mattinson charmed the higher-ups, landing a job in the mailroom before eventually working his way onto the art department for 1955's "Lady and the Tramp."
A Legacy Of Innovation
"Lady and the Tramp" was far from the only movie Mattinson had worked on. He amassed several uncredited animator roles for classics like "Sleeping Beauty," "One Hundred and One Dalmatians," "Mary Poppins," and "The Aristocats." Mattinson got his first official credit as a character animator for "Robin Hood" in 1973. Four years later, he would receive his first story writing for "The Rescuers" alongside other Disney Legends like Larry Clemmons and Ken Anderson.
However, Mattinson's biggest break came in 1983, when he co-wrote and directed "Mickey's Christmas Carol," which is still celebrated today among Disney fans during the holiday season. He also co-wrote and co-directed the cult hit "The Great Mouse Detective," and he also served on the story teams for Disney Renaissance hits such as "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King." His most recent credits had him back to his artist roots, serving as a story artist on "Big Hero 6" and "Strange World."
Needless to say, he had a lengthy and fruitful career that will be remembered by Disney fans for decades to come. When asked about his career after 50 years of working at the company, Mattinson truly embodied what many fans would consider the brand's true spirit.
"I mean, 50 years is a long time, but I still feel like that 18-year-old kid that came here back in '53, you know?" he was quoted as saying in Disney's announcement. "I never feel like I've gotten old."
He will be dearly missed.
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