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Williams at the 2015 Annecy International Animated Film Festival
Richard Edmund Williams
March 19, 1933
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Alma mater||Northern Secondary School|
|Occupation||Animator, voice actor, writer|
|Years active||1957–present (animation career)|
Imogen Sutton (current wife)
Richard Edmund Williams (born March 19, 1933) is a Canadian–British animator, voice actor, and writer, best known for serving as animation director on Disney/Amblin's Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and for his unfinished feature film The Thief and the Cobbler (1993). He was also a film title sequence designer and animator; his most famous works in this field included the title sequences to What's New Pussycat? (1965) and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966) and title and linking sequences in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968). He also animated the eponymous cartoon feline for two of the later Pink Panther films.
Williams was born in Toronto, the son of Kathleen (Bell) and Kenneth D. C. Williams. Williams emigrated to Ibiza in 1953 and then to London in 1955. In 1958 he produced the work that boosted his career and won the 1958 BAFTA Award for Animated Film, The Little Island. In the Thames Television documentary "The Thief Who Never Gave Up" (1982), Williams credits animator Bob Godfrey with giving him his start in the business, "Bob Godfrey helped me...I worked in the basement and would do work in kind, and he would let me use the camera...[it was] a barter system". After his early work in the mid-1960s he directed the Academy Award-winning A Christmas Carol (1971), the full-length feature Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977) and the Emmy-winning television film Ziggy's Gift (1982). He was director of animation on Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), winning two more Oscars for his work. He has written an acclaimed animation how-to book, The Animator's Survival Kit, published in 2002 (expanded edition, 2009). Following this, he completed a 9-minute short film titled Circus Drawings. The silent film, with live accompaniment, premiered at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival in Italy in September 2010.
Richard Williams' magnum opus, a painstakingly hand-animated epic inspired by the Arabian Nights and with the production title The Thief and the Cobbler, was begun in 1964 and was initially self-funded. As a largely non-verbal feature meant for an adult audience, The Thief was dismissed at first 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 1988. However, the production went over deadline, and in 1992, with only 15 minutes left to complete, The Completion Bond Company, who had insured Warners' financing of the film, feared competition from the similarly themed Disney film Aladdin and seized the project from Williams in Camden, London.
Completion Bond then had animator Fred Calvert supervise the animation process in Korea. New scenes were also animated to include several musical interludes. Calvert's version was released internationally in 1993 as The Princess and the Cobbler. Miramax then acquired rights to the project and extensively rewrote and re-edited the film to include continuous dialogue, as well as many cuts to lengthy sequences. Miramax's product was released in 1995 under the title Arabian Knight. For a long time, Williams preferred not to discuss the film in detail.
He is one of a number of successful people in the entertainment industry to have come from Northern Secondary School in Toronto. Currently, Williams lives in Bristol with his fourth wife, Imogen Sutton. Williams also has four children from two of his three previous marriages, including animator Alexander Williams and painter Holly Williams-Brock.
Animated shorts and Features
Titles in Live-action films