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Richard Williams, the Oscar-Winning Animator Behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Pink Panther, Has Died

Richard Williams at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
Richard Williams at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
Photo: Getty Images/Robin Marchant

Richard Williams, the legendary animator and three-time Oscar-winner behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, two Pink Panther films, and other animated classics, has died.

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According to his family, he died in Bristol, at home, yesterday; he was 86 years old. Williams, born in Toronto, was a brilliant animator who began his career in the 1950s, earning his first Oscar, for an animated adaptation of A Christmas Carol, in 1971. He went on to win another two with Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, which employed animation techniques and varying styles to blend its live-action and cartoon worlds in a mesmerizing way that still stands out as virtuosic.

He’s also known for The Thief and the Cobbler, a famous unfinished hand-animated adaptation of Arabian Nights, and The Animator’s Survival Kit, a book written by Williams which is considered a must-have resource in the animation industry. Through incredible work and lifelong pedagogy, Williams influenced entire generations of animators.

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io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.

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DISCUSSION

lightninglouie
lightninglouie

If you have a moment, take a look at Williams’ finished sequences for The Thief and the Cobbler on YouTube. Keep in mind these were created mostly with pen and ink and other analog techniques nearly forty years ago; no computers were involved.