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You Won’t Believe How Long Burny Mattinson Has Worked at Disney

This afternoon at the Walt Disney Animation studio, they took some time off to celebrate this guy:

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That’s Burny Mattinson, and he started working at Disney sixty years ago today, making him the studio’s last active employee to have worked directly with Walt Disney. It’s amazing to think what a different place America was when Mattinson first started working at the company: Disneyland didn’t yet exist, WWII general Dwight D. Eisenhower was President, there had never been a Super Bowl, Elvis Presley was just graduating high school, black people still sat in the back of the bus in many parts of America, and we’d never traveled into outer space.

Starting in the mailroom, Mattinson worked as an inbetweener, assistant animator and clean-up artist on Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, and 101 Dalmatians. He inbetweened on some of Fred Moore’s last animation and did clean-up on Marc Davis’ Maleficent. Later, he became a storyman on The Jungle Book and The Aristocats.

Mattinson made his directing debut on the featurette Mickey’s Christmas Carol, before returning to do story on Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tarzan, and the recent Winnie the Pooh feature, among others. Here’s a four-part podcast in which Mattinson discusses his career.

Everyone showed up this afternoon for the ceremony honoring Burny, including Ron Clements, Eric Goldberg, John Musker and John Lasseter:

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The Disney artists made a huge cake in Burny’s honor:

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and then devoured it:

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Then, they washed it down with Burny cupcakes:

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They celebrated him with artwork, like this piece by director Kevin Deters:

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And the county of Los Angeles (as well as the state of California) gave Burny official commendation…and managed to misspell Aristocats in the process, because, well, they’re the government:

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  • James Madison

    Congratulations, Burny!

  • Toonio

    Immune to office politics…

    Invulnerable to every possible way of mismanagement

    Survivor of the Eisner pestilence…

    Resilient to the vision transition from Disney’s old school to new school and then back to the old school tradition…

    Witness of many directors beheadings…

    It’s Burny Mattinson!!! (which I thought was long gone but golly he is still there).

    Flying under the radar has a new face on the dictionary.

  • Jamie McCue

    The Animation Podcast had a great interview with him a couple of years ago. You can tell he’s a Disney purist, he likes to do things right as well as avoiding office politics as Toonio said already. He seems like an all round good guy.

    Congratulations Burny!

  • Floyd Norman

    Awesome, Burny! I still remember seeing Burny’s dad perform with the Ray Coniff Orchestra. Did you know Burny’s dad was a talented musician?

    Anyway, the Disney Codgers consisting of Joe Grant, Vance Gerry, Burny and myself are all just about gone today. Mr. Mattinson remains the lone survivor. Bravo! Burny!

  • ShouldBeWorkin’

    Hey! I like “Artistocats”!

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I see he illustrated a book on the 1973 Robin Hood movie I liked leafing through! Not bad at all!

  • Marc Crisafulli

    Like a lot of people, I ‘knew’ Burny from that documentary on ‘Mickey’s Christmas Carol’, the one that began with Jiminy Cricket being told by phone to ‘watch the budget’. Years after that, before the internet, in search of whatever cartoon info I could find, I called the Disney studio myself. Somehow I got Burny on the phone! Burny spoke to ridiculous, awkward me without reservation and as though I were an equal. We talked about ‘The Great Mouse Detective’ and ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, and he told me that a new movie with Bernard and Bianca from ‘The Rescuers’ was in the works. I’ve been lucky enough to know a great many people who influenced and helped me over the years, though I have to say that in person, not all are as you’d think they’d be in real life. It was comforting that Burny was EXACTLY like the guy on the video tape! I just wanted to say congrats, and thank you for your kindness.

  • Andrew Austin

    Congratulations Burny ! Disney ought to celebrate this MONUMENTAL occasion with a new Mickey, Donald and Goofy cartoon !

  • Lionel

    On what Fred Moore animation did he inbetween, Amid ?

    • ShouldBeWorkin’

      Casey’s Girls.
      The Casey At The Bat sequel.

      • ShouldBeWorkin’

        Casey Bats Again
        , the correct title.

        • Lionel

          Thanks !

  • Beverly

    Burny’s wife is my step sister. She is also a very fine artist as were her mother and father (my step father, Jack K Fry); All of the paintings in my home were done by her father. Burney and I share a birthday,May 13. I only wish his talent had been shared also. He’s fantastic.