Walt Disney Animation Studios Celebrates 70th Service Anniversary of Late Disney Legend Burny Mattinson

Walt Disney Animation Studios celebrated the 70th anniversary service award for Disney Legend Burny Mattinson, the first ever, giving a beautiful statue to his family since he passed away ahead of the celebration earlier this year.

What’s Happening:

  • Though he passed away in February of this year, Walt Disney Animation Studios continued with their plan to honor Disney Legend Burny Mattinson, who had been with the studio for an unprecedented 70 years.
  • On June 4th, Mattinson was due to receive his 70th anniversary award, and the ceremony was still held with a posthumous celebration.
  • There, a one-of-a-kind sculpture was presented to his family and features his favorite characters from Winnie the Pooh.
  • Back in the 1970s, an internal training program had been initiated to train assistant animators. Mattinson enrolled in the program, delivering an animation test within eight weeks. His animation test of Prince John from Robin Hood was approved, and Mattinson became a character animator under the legendary Ollie Johnston. He next worked on Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too animating Kanga, Roo, Tigger, and Rabbit.

  • Among Mattinson’s achievements were a solo directing credit on the 1983 animated featurette Mickey’s Christmas Carol, which returned Mickey Mouse to the silver screen for the first time in 30 years, and a role as producer as well as co-director of the 1986 Disney feature The Great Mouse Detective.
  • Mattinson was still working full-time at Walt Disney Animation Studios as a story consultant and mentor at the time of his passing. Long before Strange World and Big Hero 6, he worked as an artist on such classics as Lady and the Tramp, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book and The Rescuers. He served as a key member of the story team on contemporary Disney classics including Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tarzan and Mulan. He served as the story supervisor on the 2011 theatrical feature Winnie the Pooh and contributed to the 2007 Goofy short How to Hook Up Your Home Theater.
  • Mattinson was awarded with Disney Legend status in 2008. In fact, it was this moniker that was responsible for a character in the most recent film from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Strange World. Director Don Hall called Mattinson, “Legend” and it was Mattinson who suggested to Hall that he put a dog in the film – which was added and named as such as a tribute to the long-time artist and mentor.
  • Don Hall said at the time of his passing, “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. 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.”

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Tony Betti
Originally from California where he studied a dying artform (hand-drawn animation), Tony has spent most of his adult life in the theme parks of Orlando. When he’s not writing for LP, he’s usually watching and studying something animated or arguing about “the good ole’ days” at the parks.