Robert V. Williams
July 18, 1918 – June 22, 2014
Innovator, Pioneer in film and video,
father, grandfather, friend
Robert Williams (“Bob”) was born in Chicago, IL, on July 18, 1918, son of Roscoe and Gertrude Williams. He passed away on June 22, 2014, three weeks shy of his 96th birthday.
Bob moved west with his family in 1929 at the beginning of the Great Depression: mother, father, and 5 children packed into their Model T Ford. At the age of 14, showing an early artistic talent, through the patronage of a family friend he studied art with artist Henry Miller and renowned watercolorist Donna Schuster, as well as at the Otis Art Institute. He often talked about Donna taking him on field trips to see the beauty in nature. After graduating from high school he spent years trying to break into an artist position at movie studios, finally landing a job at Universal Pictures Title Dept. Thus began a huge tussle with fate. Bob was left-handed, at the time considered a handicap. On his first day on the job, his boss told Bob he had made a mistake in hiring him. His dream coming to a crash, he was told that being left-handed, he would always have his hand in wet paint. Luckily, the boss liked Bob and told him he would give him 6 weeks to switch to his right hand, otherwise “you’re out”. Bob worked all day under the boss’s scrutiny and nights practiced on newspapers spread on the floor. At this time Bob was married with two children, so desperation was a large part of the picture. He conquered this “handicap” and by the age of 26 was the department head, the youngest at Universal, supervising 54 features a year, and is credited on many successful films.
During World War II, he was drafted and served in the Navy as an artist, drawing classified material. After the war, Bob returned to his job at Universal. In the early 1950’s, with the advent of television and commercials, Bob saw new opportunities. He said, “TV was loved at home but despised by the film world.” Universal created a commercial division, which was eventually sent to Pacific Title and Art Studio. Bob was hired by Pacific Title to supervise the Universal account, with Fox and MGM eventually being added, and also had the responsibility of running the entire art department of 25 artists. After 14 years as a Vice President of Pacific Title, Bob opened the first post-production studio in Hollywood – Creative Film Arts. Putting all post-production services “under one roof” was a historic first, and a testament to Bob’s ability to seize opportunity when he saw it. He told his children and grandchildren, “Have the courage of your convictions and go for it! In the end you’ll really find out what you’re made of.”
Bob is survived by a son of his first marriage, John R. Williams and his wife, Paula, of Pacific Palisades, their sons Todd R. Williams of San Francisco, and Michael J. Williams of Pacific Palisades. He is also survived by a son of his second marriage, Derek Williams of Sherman Oaks. Private family services will be held at a future time.