Richard Williams

From Academic Kids

This article is about Richard Williams, the animator. For Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams, see Richard Williams (aviator).


Richard Williams (b. 1933) is most well known as a film title sequence designer and animator; his most famous works included the title sequences to What's New, Pussycat (1965), title and linking sequences in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) and two of the later Pink Panther films, for which he designed the eponymous cartoon feline.

He was born in Canada and began his animation work at Disney and then UPA in the 1940s, where he apprenticed under notable artists from animation's Golden Age such as Chuck Jones and Art Babbitt. He emigrated to Spain and then to England in 1955. In 1958 he produced the work that boosted his career, the BAFTA nominated The Little Island. After his noted work in the mid-1960s he went on to direct the Academy Award winning A Christmas Carol (1971), the clunker Raggedy Ann & Andy (1977) and the Emmy-winning TVM Ziggy's Gift (1982). He also worked on Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) as director of animation and won two more Oscars for his work. He has also written The Animator's Survival Kit (2000).

Richard Williams' magnum opus, a painstakingly hand-animated epic inspired by the mythology of the Arabian Nights and with the production title The Thief and the Cobbler, was begun in 1968 and was initially self-funded. As a largely non-verbal feature meant for an adult audience, The Thief was initially dismissed as unmarketable. After over twenty years of work, Williams had completed only twenty minutes of the film, and following the critical success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Williams sought and secured a production deal with Warner Bros. in 1990. However, the production went over deadline, and in 1992, with only 15 minutes left to complete, Warner Bros., fearing competition from the similarly themed Disney film Aladdin, seized the project from Williams and completed it in Korea under the direction of animator Fred Calvert. Calvert's product was released internationally in 1994 as The Princess and the Cobbler. Miramax then acquired rights to the project and extensively rewrote and reanimated the film to include continuous dialogue and to add several musical interludes. Miramax's product was released in 1995 under the title Arabian Knight.

Richard Williams currently lives in Wales with his third wife and two children. Williams also has four children from two previous marriages, including animator Alex Williams and painter Holly Williams-Brock.

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