Walt Disney Animation Studios Legend Burny Mattinson Dead at 87

He was the longest-running employee at The Walt Disney Company.

Disney animator and director Burnett "Burny" Mattinson, who was the longest-running employee at The Walt Disney Company, has died. He was 87.

The company announced the news on its blog, disclosing the Disney legend passed away following a short illness. At the time of his passing, Mattinson was still working full-time as a story consultant and mentor.

In a statement, Walt Disney Animation Studios Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee 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 honor to know him and learn from him will ensure his legacy carries on."

Director Don Hall, who worked with Mattinson on various Disney projects, also issued a statement.

"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," wrote Hall.

He continued: "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."

Mattinson joined Walt Disney Animation Studios in 1955. His first gig at Disney was as an in-betweener on Lady and the Tramp. He then worked as an assistant animator on Sleeping Beauty, where he met his wife Sylvia Fry, who worked as an in-betweener on the 1959 film.

He went on to be an animator for The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, Robin Hood, and The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh.

In 1981, he pitched writing and directing his first feature film, Mickey's Christmas Carol, which hit theaters two years later. He also wrote and directed The Great Mouse Detective, which arrived in 1986.

His final credit is as a story artist on 2022's Strange World.