Disney's Longest Serving Cast Member Has Passed Away At 87

Mickey's Christmas Carol
(Image credit: Disney)

The Walt Disney Company is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023, and in that time, a lot of people have worked for the House of Mouse. However, nobody had worked for Disney quite as long as Burny Mattinson. 2023 marked his 70th year with the company. He is truly the definition of a Disney Legend. Unfortunately for fans of Walt Disney Animation, today Disney has reported that Mattinson passed away at the age of 87 after a short illness.

On June 4 of this year, Burny Mattinson would have received an award for his 70 years of service to the Walt Disney Company, the first person to ever achieve such an award because nobody had worked for the company nearly as long. He started working in the mailroom at Disney before becoming an assistant animator under Marc Davis, one of the famous Nine Old Men.  He worked on Sleepy Beauty first and was still working as a story consultant up until his illness.

According to the obituary posted by Disney, Burny Mattinson was literally dropped off at the gate of the Walt Disney Studio with his portfolio after graduating high school and the man just walked up looking for work, and he got it. Even if he started at the bottom, he made the most of the opportunity. A lot of the Disney greats started in the mail room, it's clear the company was very focused on promoting from within.

Mattinson's greatest film credit is likely as director of Mickey's Christmas Carol. The short film was the first new appearance of Mickey Mouse on screen in years when it happened in 1983. It was an idea that Mattinson pitched to then-Disney CEO Ron Miller. 

Mattinson was also a co-director of The Great Mouse Detective, a film that was successful enough that two of the other co-directors, Jon Musker and Ron Clements were able to make The Little Mermaid, which in turn launched the era known as the Disney Renaissance. 

Burny Mattinson was named a Disney Legend in 2008 and became the longest-serving Disney cast member on March 5, 2018, when he broke the existing record, held by artist and Imagineer John Hench, at more than 64 years. It's hard to believe anybody will ever pass this existing record. 

It's absolutely incredible in the modern day that a person could end up working at the same place for 70 years. Burny Mattinson was there for nearly three-quarters of the entire company's existence. He worked for Walt Disney, something that most people in the company today can't say. He watched the company expand as Disneyland and Walt Disney World came to life. Nobody had a bird's eye view of the growth of Disney into the company it is today like he did, and nobody will again. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.