Black Burton is a minor antagonist in Jack London's short adventure novel The Call of the Wild, and the main antagonist of the 1972 adaptation. He is a notorious troublemaker who was John Thornton's archenemy until he was killed by Buck.
He was portrayed by George Eastman in the 1972 film.
In Circle City, Buck has another opportunity to demonstrate his devotion to John Thornton and Pete's apprehensions were realized. Black Burton, a man evil-tempered and malicious, had been picking a quarrell with a tenderfoot at the bar, when Thornton stepped good-naturedly between. Buck was at his custom, lying in the corner and watching his master's every action. Burton struck out, without warning, straight from the shoulder. Thornton was sent spinning, and saved himself from falling by clutching onto the rail of the bar. Buck attacks Burton and tries to go for the throat. Burton saved his life by instinctively throwing out his arm, but was hurled back onto the floor with Buck on top of him. Buck once again tried to go for the throat, but the man succeeded in partly blocking until Buck tore his throat open.
Pete and Thornton with Buck walk to a saloon, where they are welcomed by Calliope, who are interested what they going to order. Thornton orders whiskey, but Calliope is interested if they want whiskey for $1 or for $2 price. Thornton wants whiskey for $2. And Calliope order it to Thornton, Pete and herself. Dutch Harry walks to Thornton and tells him that the bartender, Black Burton, wants to talk to him, but Thornton is not interested and tells the man to get lost. When Harry leaves, Calliope states that Thornton just made an important enemy, but Thornton did not care about it. Calliope that starts singing in the saloon and other people join her and Calliope ask John Thornton to dance with her, they dance for few seconds. When Buck start jump on John Thornton, first Thornton did not like it. But for the second time, he enjoyed Buck jumping on him. Black Burton then talks to Thornton and asks him to deliver the whiskey instead of mail, but Thornton is not interested and Buck begins to growl at Burton and his partner and they walk away.
As Thornton and Pete leave the bar, Buck fallows them. Francois and Perrault walk to him and one trick Pete, when another knock him out. Francois and Perrault then tie a rope around Buck's neck and tied the man who was looking after the dogs. Soon, Francois and Perrault steal dogs.
The next day, in Dawson, Thornton and Burton are in a police station, together with Constantine who is writing papers. Thornton asumes that it was Burton who ordered Francois and Perrault to steal the dogs, but Burton lies and says that he fired the two men who stole the dogs. Thornton kick chair where Black Burton was siting. Constantine tells that Thornton should not do that, but Thornton is not interested and leaves.
Francois and Perrault arrive in Skagway, but they trip, causing the sled to run over Francois and kill him. The sled team finally make to Skagway, but Perrault is frozen to death. Soon, a conman takes the team and plans to sell them to auction. A woman named Mercedes notices the paper about the auction and wants to buy the dogs to travel to Dawson City, but her husband Charles says that they have no experience with dogs, but Hal and Mercedes ignore him.
After Thornton forcefully buys Buck from Hal, the trio fall into a river and drown. Burton wagers Thornton on the dog's strength and devotion. Buck wins by breaking a half-ton (1,000-pound (450 kg)) sled free of the frozen ground, pulling it 100 yards (91 m) and winning US $1,600 in gold dust.
- In the book, it was Matthewson that bet on Thornton that Buck could not pull a ton of weight, while in the 1972 film, Burton played a bigger role as the main antagonist and he was the one who bet with Thornton.
- In the 1972 film, Burton was never killed by Buck, unlike the original novel.
- In the original novel, Francois and Perrault were not minions to Black Burton. They were the original sled owners to Buck and the other dogs.
- Burton made a brief appearance in the 1981 anime film Call of the Wild: Howl Buck, where Thornton and Buck are at a bar and he and the other men started attacking Thornton out of jealousy.
- Although he doesn't exist in the 2020 adaptation, the man who attacks Thornton in the bar is Hal.