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Fans mourn as The Backyardigans creator Janice Burgess dies at 72: ‘RIP Queen’


The creator of the Nickelodeon show ‘The Backyardigans’ and a writer for ‘Winx Club,’ Janice Burgess, has died at the age of 72. Burgess’ long-time friend Fracaswell Hyman confirmed her death. The two had previously worked together. Her cause of death remains undisclosed.

The Backyardigans creator Janice Burgess dies (fracaswell/Instagram)
The Backyardigans creator Janice Burgess dies (fracaswell/Instagram)

In an Instagram post, Hyman wrote, “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. This is the person the network sends to the set to make sure the money is not going to waste. 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 including LITTLE BILL and TAINA.”

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“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,” Hyman added. “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…”

Who was Janice Burgess?

Burgess, who grew up in the Squirrel Hill neighbourhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, attended The Ellis School. She graduated from Brandeis University in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in art history.

Burgess was an assistant travel coordinator for 3-2-1 Contact and project manager for Ghostwriter in the early 1990s. She eventually went on to become the vice president of Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr. division.

Burgess most notably created The Backyardigans, a popular animated musical children’s television series. Children’s book author and illustrator Dan Yaccarino designed the characters.

IMDb says of the show, “Uniqua, Pablo, Tyrone, Tasha, and Austin are a group of young friends who get together to play in the backyard they share. Each day, their imaginations transform that backyard into a different photo-realistic landscape.”

“RIP Queen” began trending on X after news of Burgess’ death surfaced. Here’s what fans are saying:


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