Disney’s Longest-Serving Cast Member and Disney Legend Has Died

disney burny mattinson died

The Walt Disney Company has lost one of its most loyal and prolific minds. It’s sad news from the world of Disney today—Disney’s longest-serving Cast Member and Disney Legend, Burny Mattinson, died at 87. Mattinson had an incredible career with the Walt Disney Company that spanned over 70 years. As shared by Disney themselves, the former Cast Member, legendary Disney animator, and storyteller passed away on Monday, February 27, at Canyon Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Canoga Park, California, following a short illness.

the walt disney company

The Walt Disney Company entrance/Courtesy of Disney

Mattinson’s story is an amazing one. As a child, his mother took him to watch Disney’s Pinocchio, where his love for animation and story-telling started. “Ever since I saw that film, this was my dream—to work in this business,” Mattinson once recalled, per Disney. He worked every day, practicing and perfecting his drawing so that he could one day join the Walt Disney Company.  His career started in the mailroom, and then six months later, he was promoted to an in-betweener for the movie Lady and the Tramp, and it just kept going.

burny mattinson

Disney Legend Burny Mattinson/Courtesy of Disney

Mattinson has worked with Disney legends like Marc Davis, Eric Larson, and Ollie Johnston, Academy Award-winning Disney director Don Hall, and more; his portfolio of work runs the gamut and includes some of the most popular Disney movies there are. Think Sleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color television series (1961-1979), The Sword in the Stone, Mary Poppins (1964), The Jungle Book, The Aristocats (1970), Aladdin (1992), Robin Hood (1973), The Lion King (1994), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Tarzan (1997), Mulan (1998), and Big Hero 6 (2014).

His solo directing credits include Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983), and he co-directed the 1986 feature, The Great Mouse Detective, based on the book “Basil of Baker Street,” which draws on the classic tradition of Sherlock Holmes.

Mattinson was remembered and honored in a thoughtful video from Disney Animation as well:

The former Cast Member was respected and loved by his colleagues. From Jennifer Lee, the chief creative officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios, “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.”

disneyland and walt disney world

The domestic Disney Resorts and Disney Parks: Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort and Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort

“Burny was the Renaissance man of Disney Animation,” legendary Disney animator Eric Goldberg shared.

Disney Legend, Burny Mattinson, was due to receive his 70th-anniversary service award (the first ever) on June 4, 2023, but he, unfortunately, died before he could receive it. Disney has paid homage to him, writing up an obituary on the official company website, and has celebrated his long and illustrious career.

Mattinson is survived by his wife, Ellen Siirola; his son, Brett Mattinson, and his wife, Kelly, and their two children; and his daughter, Genny, her husband, Larry Ellena, and their two children.

About Priyanka Kumar

Priyanka is a writer, artist, avid reader, and travel enthusiast based in Chicago. In her free time, she is probably walking by the lake, catching up on the latest releases on TV, or spending inordinate amounts of time rewatching Moana, Encanto, and her Disney Channel life-long favorites Zack and Cody wreak havoc on the Tipton.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.