Pete Burness Birth: Pete Burness was born in Los Angeles, California, on June 16, 1904.
Death: He died of pancreatic cancer on July 21, 1969.

animator/animation director

Bio Summary:
Wilson D. “Pete” Burness was an American animator and director. He’s best known as the writer/producer of Mr. Magoo, animator on looney toons, director on Rocky and Friends, Hoppity Hooper and George of the Jungle.

Early Life/Family:
Wife named Juana.


Career Outline:
His animation career started in 1931 where he worked for Romer Grey and Ted Eshbaugh on Goofy Goat Antics. Burness was hired at Van Beuren Studios in 1933, where he animated a film adaptation of The Little King. He transferred to the Harman-Ising studio in 1936 and on to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1938.

While at MGM, Burness worked on Tom and Jerry until 1945 then went to work for Warner Brothers from 1948-1949 on a number of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts. He left Warner Bros. to be a director for UPA on the Mr. Magoo series. Some have given Burness credit for creating Mr. Magoo, but there were already Mr. Magoo shorts in development before Burness came to UPA.

Burness is credited with softening Mr. Magoo into a more appealing character, better designed for mass audiences.

Two of Burness’ Mr. Magoo shorts; When Magoo Flew (1954) and Mr. Magoo’s Puddle Jumper (1956), won Academy Awards for Best Short Subject. In 1958 he co-wrote and began to direct 1001 Arabian Nights, featuring Mr. Magoo but Burness had a dispute with producer Stephen Bosustow and left the project.

Comments On Style:
Represents the peak of the 1950s UPA house style.


Burness was famous for having an explosive temper. The lead character in the Pete Hothead shorts were based on Burness:
Martha Sigall remembers working in ink and paint and seeing Pete Burness come through the building.


Director (43 titles)
1967 George of the Jungle (TV series)
1964-1965 Hoppity Hooper (TV series)
– Wonder Water (1965)
– Frog Prince of Monomania (1965)
– The Hopeless Diamond (1965)
– Ghost (1965)
– Oil's Well at Oasis Gardens (1965)
See all 17 episodes
1961 The Bullwinkle Show (TV series)
1960 Rocky and His Friends (TV series)
– The Road to Ruin or Mine Over Matter/Two Flying Ghosts or High Spirits (1960)
– Upsidaisium/Big Bomb at Frostbite Falls or The Exploding Metropolis (1960)
1958 Magoo's Three-Point Landing (short)
1958 The Explosive Mr. Magoo (short)
1958 Magoo's Young Manhood (short)
1957 Rock-Hound Magoo (short)
1957 Magoo Saves the Bank (short)
1957 Magoo's Glorious Fourth (short)
1957 Magoo Breaks Par (short)
1957 Matador Magoo (short)
1957 Magoo Goes Overboard (short)
1956 Meet Mother Magoo (short)
1956 Magoo's Problem Child (short)
1956 Trailblazer Magoo (short)
1956 Magoo's Puddle Jumper (short)
1956 Magoo Beats the Heat (short)
1956 Calling Doctor Magoo (short)
1956 Magoo Goes West (short)
1956 Magoo's Canine Mutiny (short)
1955 Magoo Makes News (short)
1955 Stage Door Magoo (short)
1955 Madcap Magoo (short)
1955 Magoo Express (short)
1955 Magoo's Check Up (short)
1954 Destination Magoo (short)
1954 Kangaroo Courting (short)
1954 The Fifty-First Dragon (short)
1954 Magoo Goes Skiing (short)
1954 When Magoo Flew (short)
1953 Magoo Slept Here (short)
1953 Magoo's Masterpiece (short)
1953 Safety Spin (short)
1952 Captains Outrageous (short)
1952 Pete Hothead (short)
1952 Pink and Blue Blues (short)
1952 The Dog Snatcher (short)
1952 Sloppy Jalopy (short)
1951 Grizzly Golfer (short)
1950 Bungled Bungalow (short)
1950 Trouble Indemnity (short)
1950 Spellbound Hound (short)
Animation Department (49 titles)
Producer (11 titles)
Writer (4 titles)

two Academy Awards

Related Links: Chuck Jones references Burness as one of the animators who never thought he was animating for fame:
IMDB: Bibliographic References
UPA photos featuring Burness:
On Burness falling asleep during a screening:
Died of pancreatic cancer:

Contributors To This Listing:
Doug TenNapel
Martha Sigall

Animators Hall of Fame