The animation world is mourning the death of a legend. Richard Williams, the Academy Award-winning animator best known for his work in the Pink Panther films and the 1988 hit Who Framed Roger Rabbit, has died at age 86. Williams passed away at his home in Bristol, UK, Deadline reports.
Williams’ daughter, Natasha Sutton Williams, revealed that her father died after battling cancer. She also said that he was animating and writing until 6 p.m. on the day he died, according to a report by CNN.
“He really was an inspiration to everyone that met him. Whether they were animators, or from the top to the bottom of society.”
Williams got his start in the 1955 film The Little Island, which scored him a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award. He went on to win his first of three career Oscars for his work on the animated TV adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in 1971. Williams also worked on the full-length feature, Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977), and the Emmy-winning TV film Ziggy’s Gift. (1982).
While he created the title animation in two high-profile Pink Panther films in the 1970s (The Return of the Pink Panther and The Pink Panther Strikes Again), Williams’ greatest claim to fame was the hugely successful live-action animation Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988, in which he created the film versions of Roger Rabbit and his wife, Jessica. He won two more Oscars for his work on the Robert Zemeckis film.
Sadly, Williams’ The Thief and the Cobbler, a troubled project he worked on for decades, was not fully completed during his lifetime.
Richard Williams became inspired to become an animator at the age of 5 when he saw the classic film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at a movie theater. In 2008, he told the BBC that the animated Disney film made a “tremendous impression” on him when he was just a young boy.
After being told he needed to learn how to draw properly, Williams “lost all interest in animation” until he was 23, he told the BBC. Williams certainly made up for lost time with his impressive career, even penning the book The Animator’s Survival Kit in 2001.
In 2015, Williams joined Twitter, much to the delight of his many fans. The legendary animator often answered fan questions on his page.
Richard Williams is survived by his wife and longtime collaborator Imogen Sutton and his children.
You can see some Richard Williams’ early work in A Christmas Carol below.