Burny Mattinson, an animator, director, producer, and story artist for Disney, died on Monday, February 27, after a short illness in Canoga Park, California. He was 87.
Mattinson’s longtime employer, The Walt Disney Company confirmed that he had died. Mattinson was the Disney employee who had worked there the longest, and he was going to get the first award for 70 years of service this June.
Mattinson was born in San Francisco on May 13, 1935. When he was 6, he saw “Pinocchio,” which made him want to work in animation. He started drawing in an attempt to copy the style of Disney animation.
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When he was done with high school, Mattinson joined The Walt Disney Company. In just six months, he went from working in the mailroom to working on “Lady and the Tramp” as an animation in-betweener.
Academy Award-winning Disney director Don Hall said (as reported by VARIETY) –
“For almost 30 years, I’ve had the privilege to work alongside Burny Mattinson, from ‘Winnie the Pooh’ to ‘Big Hero 6’ to, most recently, ‘Strange World.’ I have marveled at his artistry, enjoyed his good humor, and sat enraptured by his stories of Disney history. At 18 years old, he followed his dream of working at Walt Disney Animation Studios, and for almost 70 years he lived that dream every day, inspiring all of us who had the good fortune to follow in his footsteps. I love him dearly.”
After his first animation contribution, Mattinson worked with Marc Davis on “Sleeping Beauty” and “One Hundred and One Dalmatians.” He then worked with Eric Larson on “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color,” “The Sword in the Stone,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Jungle Book,” and “The Aristocats.”
After that, Mattinson worked as an animator on “Robin Hood” and was the main animator on “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Too.” “Mickey’s Christmas Carol,” an animated movie, was directed by Mattinson in 1983, and “The Great Mouse Detective” was co-directed by him in 1986.
During the 1990s, he worked on Disney’s animated movies like “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King,” “Pocahontas,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Tarzan,” and “Mulan.”
Mattinson kept working even after his 70-year career was over. He was the story supervisor for the “Goofy” short “How to Hook Up Your Home Theater” in 2007 and the “Winnie the Pooh” movie in 2011. By 2014, Mattinson was a story consultant and mentor for both “Big Hero 6” and “Strange World,” a movie that will come out in 2022.
Disney animator Eric Goldberg said (as reported by DEADLINE) –
“Burny was the Renaissance man of Disney Animation. He literally did everything that could be done at the studio — assistant animator, animator, story artist, producer and director of many films that made an indelible mark on our collective appreciation of the Disney ethos. He was also, when he started, traffic boy to Walt, giving Walt his weekly spending cash.”
“The more I saw of his work, the more I became in awe of his breadth of talent. I value his cheerful friendship and lasting inspiration to me and so many other animation artists. He will be missed, but not forgotten.”
Mattinson is survived by his wife, Ellen Siirola, his son, Brett Mattinson, his son’s wife, Kelly, and their two children, and his daughter, Genny, and her family.