Patrick Williamson, Longtime Executive at Columbia Pictures, Dies at 88

Courtesy of Williamson Family
Patrick Williamson

He headed international operations and Triumph Releasing at the studio, which was sold to Coca-Cola and Sony during his 50 years there.

Patrick Williamson, a top executive at Columbia Pictures in the 1970s and '80s, has died. He was 88.

Williamson died Wednesday of natural causes at his home in Windermere, Florida, his son Peter Williamson reported.

The elder Williamson started out in the Columbia mailroom in its London office in 1944, when he was 14, and spent nearly 50 years with the company.

As one of Columbia’s most prominent international executives, he helped launch such classics as the best picture Oscar winners Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Oliver! (1968) as well as Funny Girl (1968).

Born on Oct. 5, 1929, in Margate, England, and raised in suburban London, Williamson came to the U.S. in 1973 when he was promoted to the New York home office and rose to become president of Columbia Pictures International, supervising offices in 50 countries.

In 1982, the Coca-Cola Co. acquired the studio and appointed him executive vice president of Columbia Pictures Industries and executive vice president of the entertainment business sector of Coca-Cola.

He then founded and served as president and CEO of Triumph Releasing, formed by Columbia and Gaumont to distribute foreign films.

After Columbia was sold to Sony Corp. in 1990, he was a consultant to Sony Pictures Entertainment through 1993.

Williamson was a member of the executive branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and involved with Variety Club International, the Children’s Charity.

Survivors include his children Stephen, Peter and Gail. Joy, his wife of 60 years, died in March 2016.

A celebration of his life is scheduled for Aug. 2 at The Landing in Stamford, Connecticut.