Richard Williams, Animator Who Created 'Roger Rabbit' and Worked on 'Pink Panther', Dies at 86

Richard Williams was a three-time Oscar winner

Richard Williams
Photo: Rodrigo Vaz/FilmMagic

Richard Williams, the acclaimed animator who created the iconic characters Roger and Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, has died. He was 86.

Williams’ family announced the news to The Guardian and The Hollywood Reporter, saying that the three-time Oscar winner died at his home in Bristol, England, on Friday.

Besides Roger Rabbit, Williams also worked on two films in the classic Pink Panther series: The Return of the Pink Panther and The Pink Panther Strikes Again. The animator also created a number of short films, and won his first Oscar with the short film A Christmas Carol in 1973.

Williams was the animation director on 1988’s Roger Rabbit, and won two Academy Awards for the film — one of which was a special achievement award for directing and creating the cartoon characters. The film became known for its merging of live-action and animated characters.

The animator previously said that Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs made a “tremendous impression” on him when he was just five years old.

“I always wanted, when I was a kid, to get to Disney. I was a clever little fellow so I took my drawings and I eventually got in,” he told the BBC in 2008. “They did a story on me, and I was in there for two days, which you can imagine what it was like for a kid.”

After being told he needed to learn how to draw properly, Williams “lost all interest in animation until I was 23,” he told the BBC, but said he was eventually returned to drawing because his “paintings were trying to move.”

Williams also wrote a popular 2001 book called The Animator’s Survival Kit. He is survived by his wife and longtime collaborator Imogen Sutton, as well as his children.

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