Richard Williams, Oscar-Winning 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

Nick Beek-Sanders
Richard Williams

The Canadian-born animator earned three Academy Awards and three BAFTAs over his career.

Richard Williams, the three-time Oscar- and BAFTA-winning animator famed for his work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, has died. He was 86.

Williams' family announced that he died Friday at his home in the British city of Bristol.

Born in Toronto but having moved to the U.K. in the 1950s, Williams — who claimed he was drawn to illustrations and animation having watched Disney's Snow White at the age of 5 — received critical acclaim with his first film The Little Island, which won a BAFTA in 1958. His first Oscar would come in 1971 for his animated adaptation of A Christmas Carol. 

Williams also worked on two Pink Panther films and Casino Royale, but it was his work as animation director on Robert Zemeckis' Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) which would cement his name into animation folklore. The live-action/animated comedy starring Bob Hoskins was a critical and commercial hit, earning $330 million and becoming the first live-action/animation hybrid film to win multiple Academy Awards since Mary Poppins in 1964. Two of the film's three Oscars went to Williams, who also won a visual effects BAFTA.

Elsewhere, Williams directed, produced and wrote his unfinished feature film The Thief and the Cobbler, a painstakingly hand-animated epic inspired by Arabian Nights, which he started in 1964 and is considered his magnum opus. 

Williams was also an author and teacher. His best-selling book The Animator's Survival Kit is considered a bible in the industry, and has been sold around the world and translated into nine languages. 

Williams was reportedly still animating and writing up to the day he died.