Burny Mattinson, Disney animator and longest-serving employee, dies aged 87

The renowned filmmaker was due to receive the company's first platinum service award in June

Powered by automated translation

Burnette 'Burny' Mattinson, Disney’s longest-serving employee, has died aged 87.

The animator, director and story artist had been part of The Walt Disney Company for 70 years. Mattinson was still working with the company as a story consultant and mentor and was due to receive the company’s first platinum service award in June.

Mattinson died on Monday at a nursing home in California after a short illness, Disney said.

“Burny was the Renaissance man of Disney Animation,” said Eric Goldberg, also a Disney animator. “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.”

Mattinson began working at The Walt Disney Company as a teenager, starting in the post room before joining the animating team as an assistant animator on the 1955 film Lady and the Tramp.

He would go on to work on some of Disney’s best-loved classics, as well as on more recent hits. He was awarded the coveted Disney Legend title in 2008.

Jennifer Lee, chief creative officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios, said: “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 honour to know him and learn from him will ensure his legacy carries on.”

Mattinson is survived by his wife, Ellen Siirola, his son Brett Mattinson and his daughter Genny.

Updated: February 28, 2023, 11:02 AM