Burnette 'Burny' Mattinson, who died on Monday after a short illness, was the longest-serving employee of The Walt Disney Company. He joined the organisation as a teenager in 1953, working in the post room before becoming part of the animating team as an assistant on the 1955 film Lady and the Tramp.
He was a vital part of several Disney productions, including many of the company's contemporary classics. Here are five of his career-defining films.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
Mattinson worked as an assistant animator on the film. It was the second he worked on in that capacity after 1959's Sleeping Beauty, with the renowned Marc Davis. For the next decade, he would work alongside another revered Disney animator, Eric Larson, on several titles including the television series Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, which ran from 1961-1979, 1964 film Mary Poppins and the 1970 films The Jungle Book and The Aristocats.
Robin Hood (1973)
Mattinson’s big break as a fully fledged animator came with the 1973 film Robin Hood, which he worked on after an eight-week training programme at Disney. He then became a key animator on Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Too (1974) and did the storyboards for the 1977 film The Rescuers.
“Storyboards are as close to direction as you can get,” Mattinson once said. “You’re telling cameras where to go, what’s happening on screen, where to cut and really making a blueprint for the film.”
Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
This film was another milestone in Mattinson’s career. After hearing the 1974 Disneyland Records album An Adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol, Mattinson sent the music, along with an idea for a film, to then head of The Walt Disney Studio Ron Miller.
The move was a brazen one by the still-budding animator, but it would prove to be fruitful. Miller assigned Mattinson to direct and produce Mickey’s Christmas Carol, paving the way for his next big project as a director — The Great Mouse Detective, a 1986 mystery adventure about a kidnapped toymaker.
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Besides being an important animator at Disney, Mattinson was also revered for his contributions to the stories of some of the highest-regarded classics in the company’s oeuvre.
His most prolific stint as a story contributor to Disney began with the 1991 film Beauty and the Beast. After proving his prowess, Mattinson worked on several other would-be classics, including Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994), Pocahontas (1995), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Mulan (1998), and Tarzan (1999).
Big Hero 6 (2014)
One of Mattinson’s final projects as a story artist in the animation department, Big Hero 6 was released in 2014. It tells the story of the relationship between an inflatable robot named Baymax and tech prodigy Hiro Hamada, and was a critical success.
Mattinson's last film as part of Disney’s art department was the 2022 film Strange World. It tells the story of a family of explorers who find themselves in an unmapped land with extraordinary creatures.
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