Richard Williams was a Canadian–British animator, voice actor, director, and writer, best known for serving as animation director on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, for which he won two Academy Awards, and for his unfinished feature film The Thief and the Cobbler.
In 2015 his short film Prologue received both an Oscar nomination and a BAFTA nomination in the category of best animated short. Prologue is actually the first 6 minutes of his hand-drawn feature film Lysistrata, based on the ancient Greek comedy by Aristophanes, which Williams joked should be sub-titled “Will I Live to Finish It?” Williams described Prologue as “the only thing so far in my career that I’ve ever really been pleased with.” In 2013 Williams told The Guardian, “All I need is some time and five or six assistants who can draw like hell.” The film was intended to be “grim but funny and salacious and sexy”. Like The Thief and the Cobbler, Prologue would never be completed. But, as Williams put it: “it’s the doing of it that matters. Do it for the love of it. That’s all there is”.
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Jessica Rabbit is a fictional character in Who Censored Roger Rabbit? and its film adaptation Who Framed Roger Rabbit? She is depicted as Roger’s human toon wife. Jessica is renowned as one of the best-known sex symbols in animation.
Author Gary K. Wolf based Jessica primarily on the cartoon character Red from Tex Avery’s Red Hot Riding Hood. The film version of the character was inspired by various actresses. Richard Williams explained, “I tried to make her like Rita Hayworth; we took her hair from Veronica Lake, and Zemeckis kept saying, ‘What about the look Lauren Bacall had?'” He described that combination as an “ultimate male fantasy, drawn by a cartoonist.”
The song Why Don’t You Do Right? is an American blues and jazz-influenced pop song written by “Kansas Joe” McCoy and Herb Morand in 1936. Both men are given composer credits on the original 78 record label, although Morand’s name is misspelled. A minor key twelve-bar blues with a few chord substitutions, it is considered a classic “woman’s blues” song and has become a standard.
In 1936, the Harlem Hamfats recorded Why Don’t You Do Right? Band member McCoy later rewrote the song, refining the composition and lyrics. The new tune was recorded by Lil Green in 1941, with guitar by William “Big Bill” Broonzy. The recording was an early jazz and blues hit.
The song has its roots in blues music and originally dealt with a marijuana smoker reminiscing about lost financial opportunities. As it was rewritten, it takes on the perspective of the female partner, who chastises her man for his irresponsible ways: “Why don’t you do right, like some other men do? Get out of here and get me some money too.”
One of the best-known versions of the song was recorded by Peggy Lee and Benny Goodman on July 27, 1942, in New York. Featured in the 1943 film, Stage Door Canteen, it sold over one million copies and brought her to nationwide attention.
Lee often stated that Green’s recording was influential to her music. In a 1971 interview she said, “I had the record, and I used to play it over and over in my dressing room, which was next to Benny Goodman. Finally he said, ‘I think you really like that song.’ I said, ‘Oh, I love it.’ He said, ‘Would you like to sing it?'” Lee said yes, so Goodman had an arrangement made of it for Lee to sing.
In 1988 Why Don’t You Do Right? was sung by Jessica Rabbit in a very provocative way.
I recently had this wonderful Roger Rabbit trilogy signed by the original creator of Roger Rabbit himself, Gary K. Wolf. He is one of the kindest and most down-to-Earth artists I have ever had the pleasure of talking to.
For Gary K. Wolf, a simple philosophy of believing in an idea and seeing it through – whether it be a blue cow or a madcap rabbit – paid off. “I color cows blue,” he says, “and make people happy! That’s my fondest childhood dream come true.”
Gary K. Wolf is an American author. He is best known as the author of Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, which was adapted into the hit feature-length film Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
The success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? rekindled an interest in the Golden Age of American animation, and sparked the modern animation scene. In 1991, Walt Disney Imagineering began to develop Mickey’s Toontown for Disneyland, based on the Toontown that appeared in the film. The attraction also features a ride called Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin. Three theatrical animated shorts were also produced: Tummy Trouble, played in front of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids; Roller Coaster Rabbit was shown with Dick Tracy; and Trail Mix-Up was included with A Far Off Place.The film also inspired a short-lived comic-book and video-game spin-offs, including two PC games, the Japanese version of The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle (which features Roger instead of Bugs), a 1989 game released on the Nintendo Entertainment System, and a 1991 game released on the Game Boy.
In December 2016, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
The film is based on Gary K. Wolf’s 1981 novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit?