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Veteran Pixar Animator Adam Burke Dies

Artist was known for his tremendous talent as well as charm managing access to the studio’s secret Love Lounge.

Adam Burke, whose career animating on many of the industry’s biggest feature films spanned more than two decades, passed away Monday from cancer. His death was announced by Brad Bird, who directed Burke in four movies: Incredibles 2, The Incredibles, Ratatouille and The Iron Giant.

Burke, who began his career in the early 1990s, spent several years at Warner Bros., working as an animator both on The Iron Giant and Space Jam, before moving to DreamWorks to work on The Road to Eldorado, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas. But he found his true home at Pixar, spending 15 years at the Northern California studio, animating on all Bird’s films as well as Cars and Cars 2, Wall-E, Up and Toy Story 3.

Burke for years was also the keeper of one of the studio’s most intriguing and unique “secrets:” The Love Lounge. Predating the larger speakeasy-styled Lucky Seven Lounge loved by John Lasseter, The Love Lounge was the original, entered on one’s knees through a small Being John Malkovich type access panel, a tiny getaway, barely big enough for six people, decorated in 50s kitsch complete with a shareable fez, knick-knacks, a bar and a closed-circuit camera of questionable practicality. The tiny crawl space was originally discovered by the office’s first owner, supervising animator Andrew Gordon, who decorated it as a private hang-out for a chosen few. It soon became the “unspoken” secret spot visiting dignitaries clamored to check out – 100s of notable visitors who have signed the walls include Quentin Tarantino, Tim Allen, Randy Newman, and Sasha and Malia Obama.

AWN’s 2010 Oscar Showcase Tour, inside the Love Lounge: (left to right) AWN co-founder and tour organizer Ron Diamond, ‘The Lady and the Reaper’ director Javier Recio Gracia and Burke.

During AWN’s annual Oscar Showcase Tour, for many years, nominated directors and their entourage would unceremoniously barge into Burke’s office, imploring him to stop working and entertain everyone by showing off his hideaway. Burke, ever the gracious gentleman, never failed to happily oblige. It was always the highlight of the day.

Access panel in Burke’s office that led to The Love Lounge, Pixar’s not-so-secret secret hideaway that became a must-see part of VIP studio tours.

VIP signatures adorned each wall.

Bottles of alcohol adorned several walls as well.

Dan Sarto's picture

Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.