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Burny Mattinson, animator who was Disney’s longest-serving employee, dies at 87

The Walt Disney Co. mourns the loss of animator, producer and story artist Burny Mattinson, whose work has included “Lady and the Tramp,” “One Hundred and One Dalmatians,” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

Mattinson died Monday at Canyon Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Canoga Park after a short illness, Disney announced in a release. He turned 87.

“Burny’s artistry, generosity and love for Disney Animation and the generations of storytellers that have come to us over seven decades have made us better – better artists, better technologists and better employees,” said Jennifer Lee, chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios. .

“Anyone who has had the honor of knowing and learning from him will ensure that his legacy is carried on.”

walt disney co. Chief Executive Bob Iger also paid tribute to the late animator.

“Deeply saddened that Disney legend Burny Mattinson – our longest serving employee – has passed away,” he tweeted Monday. “Burny started as a courier on the lot in 1953 and became a true icon of @DisneyAnimation. We are eternally grateful for his contributions and seven decades of service.”

Born Burnett Mattinson on May 13, 1935 in San Francisco, he grew up in Los Angeles. After graduating from high school in 1953, Mattinson got a job in the Walt Disney Studios mailroom in Burbank. Months later, he was working on “Lady and the Tramp,” which premiered in 1955.

“I just wanted to work at Disney. I was six years old and I decided I was going to work at Disney,” Mattinson said in 2018 65th work anniversary at Disney.

In subsequent years, Mattinson worked on more Disney animated classics, including “Sleeping Beauty,” “One Hundred and One Dalmatians,” “The Jungle Book,” and “The Aristocats.” During his tenure as an assistant animator, Mattinson worked with fellow animation greats Marc Davis and Eric Larson.

In the 1980s, he made his foray into directing with the animated short ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’ in 1983 and the feature film ‘The Great Mouse Detective’ in 1986, which he produced and co-directed.

Ten years later, Mattinson was “a key member” of the beloved films “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King,” and “Mulan,” according to Disney. “Big Hero 6” and “Strange World” were among Mattinson’s most recent credits.

In 2008, Disney honored Mattinson with the title Disney Legend. The predicate is awarded to people who have made ‘extraordinary’ contributions to Disney’s legacy.

As of March 5, 2018, Mattinson became Disney’s longest-serving employee (“cast member”), breaking the record previously held by artist John Hench.

The Walt Disney Co. would honor Mattinson in June with his first 70th anniversary service award.

“One of the things I found when I first started here, and it’s never changed, is that sense of anticipation of what’s going to happen here in the studio the next day,” Mattinson said at his 2018 ceremony. I could hardly wait to get here and … something remarkable always happened and you felt part of it.”

According to Disney, Mattinson is survived by his wife, Ellen Siirola, son Brett, daughter Kelly, their respective spouses and four grandchildren.

Mattinson will be buried in a private funeral in Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills. Donations can be made to the Motion Picture and Television Fund.