'The Backyardigans' creator Janice Burgess dies aged 72

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By James Kay

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Janice Burgess, the creator of The Backyardigans, has sadly passed away aged 72.

Burgess' death was confirmed by fellow animation writer Fracaswell Hyman, who took to social media to share the sad news while recalling personal memories.

"I met Janice Burgess early in my career when I was head writer on Gullah Gullah Island and she was assigned to be our Executive in Charge of Production," Hyman said.

He continued: "Janice swept in with her acid-tongued wit, flowing Hermes scarves and omnipresent cigarettes. Instead of an overseer, she became a friend. She recognized my magic before I did and made sure I was in the room and under consideration for many of the shows that came my way."

Janice Burgess
Janice Burgess collecting an award in 2008. Credit: Jemal Countess/Getty

Hyman went on: "Janice created THE BACKYARDIGANS and guided countless other shows for Nickelodeon, Sesame Workshop, Disney and Apple TV. Her script/story critiques were astute, clear and constructive - and I really thank her for that."

Expressing his grief, Hyman concluded: "Janice, Maria Perez-Brown, and I developed shows together, gossiped together and oh, how we laughed! I will miss my dear friend. RIP. Oh, how we laughed…"

Burgess's journey into television began in her hometown of Pittsburgh, where she graduated from Brandeis University in 1973 with a degree in art history.

Her early career involved diverse roles, from craft services at WQED TV station to contributing to iconic shows like 3-2-1 Contact and Ghostwriter at Children's Television Workshop, per the Daily Mail.

Joining Nickelodeon's Nick Jr. channel as an executive in charge of production, Burgess played a key role in nurturing hits like Blue's Clues, Allegra's Window, and Gullah Gullah Island.

Transitioning to creative endeavors, Burgess's groundbreaking work included the pilot for a live-action full-body puppet show, Me and My Friends, and later, the animated phenomenon The Backyardigans.

Janice Burgess
Burgess has passed away aged 72. Credit: L. Busacca/Getty

Her legacy continued with contributions to shows like Winx Club and the co-development of Bubble Guppies.

There is currently no confirmed cause of death.

Tributes flooded in for Burgess under the post from Hyman, with one person stating: "I don't remember much of my pre-school years but I cannot deny that The Backyardigans had a significant importance to my life when I first saw the show on Nick Jr. during my early years. Janice created a show with wonderful characters, which helped shaped up my imagination for the eventual years to come."

Another former colleague said: "Janice was one of the most unique, intelligent, creative, loving, joyful, determined and beautiful humans that I’ve ever known. A complete original and my life was impacted forever because I had the experience of seeing her craft Backyardigans. It was privilege to sail that adventure with her for a while. too dreadfully soon."

Our thoughts are with Burgess' loved ones during this time.

Featured image credit: Jemal Countess/Getty

'The Backyardigans' creator Janice Burgess dies aged 72

vt-author-image

By James Kay

Article saved!Article saved!

Janice Burgess, the creator of The Backyardigans, has sadly passed away aged 72.

Burgess' death was confirmed by fellow animation writer Fracaswell Hyman, who took to social media to share the sad news while recalling personal memories.

"I met Janice Burgess early in my career when I was head writer on Gullah Gullah Island and she was assigned to be our Executive in Charge of Production," Hyman said.

He continued: "Janice swept in with her acid-tongued wit, flowing Hermes scarves and omnipresent cigarettes. Instead of an overseer, she became a friend. She recognized my magic before I did and made sure I was in the room and under consideration for many of the shows that came my way."

Janice Burgess
Janice Burgess collecting an award in 2008. Credit: Jemal Countess/Getty

Hyman went on: "Janice created THE BACKYARDIGANS and guided countless other shows for Nickelodeon, Sesame Workshop, Disney and Apple TV. Her script/story critiques were astute, clear and constructive - and I really thank her for that."

Expressing his grief, Hyman concluded: "Janice, Maria Perez-Brown, and I developed shows together, gossiped together and oh, how we laughed! I will miss my dear friend. RIP. Oh, how we laughed…"

Burgess's journey into television began in her hometown of Pittsburgh, where she graduated from Brandeis University in 1973 with a degree in art history.

Her early career involved diverse roles, from craft services at WQED TV station to contributing to iconic shows like 3-2-1 Contact and Ghostwriter at Children's Television Workshop, per the Daily Mail.

Joining Nickelodeon's Nick Jr. channel as an executive in charge of production, Burgess played a key role in nurturing hits like Blue's Clues, Allegra's Window, and Gullah Gullah Island.

Transitioning to creative endeavors, Burgess's groundbreaking work included the pilot for a live-action full-body puppet show, Me and My Friends, and later, the animated phenomenon The Backyardigans.

Janice Burgess
Burgess has passed away aged 72. Credit: L. Busacca/Getty

Her legacy continued with contributions to shows like Winx Club and the co-development of Bubble Guppies.

There is currently no confirmed cause of death.

Tributes flooded in for Burgess under the post from Hyman, with one person stating: "I don't remember much of my pre-school years but I cannot deny that The Backyardigans had a significant importance to my life when I first saw the show on Nick Jr. during my early years. Janice created a show with wonderful characters, which helped shaped up my imagination for the eventual years to come."

Another former colleague said: "Janice was one of the most unique, intelligent, creative, loving, joyful, determined and beautiful humans that I’ve ever known. A complete original and my life was impacted forever because I had the experience of seeing her craft Backyardigans. It was privilege to sail that adventure with her for a while. too dreadfully soon."

Our thoughts are with Burgess' loved ones during this time.

Featured image credit: Jemal Countess/Getty