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“The Backyardigans” Creator Janice Burgess Dead at 72

"Janice was one of the greats--inherently creative and kind, and dedicated to the preschool audience everywhere," Nickelodeon said in a statement to PEOPLE

<p>getty</p> Janice Burgess during a Nickelodeon luncheon at the National Press Club on June 28, 2005

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Janice Burgess during a Nickelodeon luncheon at the National Press Club on June 28, 2005

Janice Burgess, the creator behind the hit Nick Jr. series The Backyardigans, is dead. She was 72.

Burgess died of breast cancer in hospice care on Saturday, Brown Johnson, a longtime friend, told The New York Times.

Another friend of Burgess, Fracaswell Hyman, also confirmed the news to PEOPLE. He remembered her as someone who "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," in a touching Instagram post.

In a statement shared with PEOPLE, Nickelodeon remembered her as "one of the greats."

<p>getty</p> Janice Burgess, far right, poses for a photo at a Nickelodeon luncheon

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Janice Burgess, far right, poses for a photo at a Nickelodeon luncheon

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“We are saddened to learn of the passing of one of the great architects of Nick Jr. and creator of the globally beloved series, The Backyardigans. Janice was one of the greats--inherently creative and kind, and dedicated to the preschool audience everywhere," the statement read.

The Backyardigans ran for four seasons from 2004 to 2013. The series won the Daytime Emmy for outstanding special class animated program in 2008. Burgess also won an Emmy for Little Bill in 2004.

Before working as a creator for Nick Jr, Burgess worked as an executive in the preschool division, per a 2006 interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Burgess told the outlet in October 2006 that she was inspired to create the series by Die Hard and Star Wars.

"I'm really quite a refined person, but there's nothing I like more than cops and robbers and gun fights and crazy driving and fast and furiousness," Burgess said at the time. "When you think in terms of little kids, you don't want to scare them, and I'm not in favor of showing any kind of violence or aggression, but you can certainly have a big adventure even if you're 3. I thought it would be fun to take kids on that big adventure."

<p>getty</p> Janice Burgess

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Janice Burgess

"When you think in terms of little kids, you don't want to scare them, and I'm not in favor of showing any kind of violence or aggression, but you can certainly have a big adventure even if you're 3. I thought it would be fun to take kids on that big adventure," she added.

Fans of the hit children's series shared their best memories of the show on X, formerly Twitter.

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One user on X wrote, "Backyardigans meant a lot to me and many others, sad to hear the creator Janice Burgess has passed away, thank you for being a wonderful part of many peoples childhood."

"I can’t believe how someone of such importance to me as Janice Burgess has passed on. An important symbol of my childhood. She will be missed forever," wrote another X user.

Burgess is survived by her mother and her brother Jack Burgess, reports the Times.

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Read the original article on People.