Bradford Cody Williams (January 8,1951-October 17, 1993), better known as Brad Williams, was an American puppeteer, designer, and actor best known for his work on Pinwheel.

Early Life

Brad Williams was born on January 8, 1951[1] in White Plains, New York. One of his favorite shows growing up was a puppet show called Kukla, Fran and Ollie. After high school, he attended Hope College from 1969-1973, and then the University of Connecticut between 1975 and 1980, and graduated with a fine arts degree in puppet arts.[2][3]


In 1972, Burr Tillstrom hosted a retrospective performance for Kukla, Fran and Ollie to celebrate the show's 25 anniversary, which Williams helped mount and performed on.[2] This opened the door for him to do other puppetry projects throughout his college years.


Williams' television debut came in 1977 when he joined the team on Pinwheel.[4] He helped design the sets and puppets, and performed the characters Plus, Aurelia, Luigi O'Brien, and Ebeneezer T. Squint.

"To me puppets should be used for things which humans can't do. You apply that to their physical appearance: a puppet should look like something no human can look like. And they should be able to do things which no human could do or ever get away with! I think we've achieved that with "Pinwheel".[5]"
―Brad Williams

Hocus Focus

In addition to Pinwheel, Williams starred on another Nickelodeon series called Hocus Focus. He played an apprentice wizard named Kryspen, who was sent from the middle ages to present day 1979 to learn about the modern world.[6] The show ran for one season.

While working on Pinwheel, Williams worked on various theater productions in New York. Production on Pinwheel ended in 1984, with the last project being a touring live show with Williams, George James, and Jim Jinkins. He continued do to various projects after this, including creating the characters Rex and Rita Saurus for Barbara Bush's American literacy program. Williams' designs, however, were short lived.[7]

Williams also created a mascot character for himself called Zabar. The story Williams created for the character is that he's an extra-terrestrial that landed in New York and had an unpronounceable name, but while while wandering the Upper West Side, decided to take the name of a restaurant called Zabar's.[4]


Williams died on October 17, 1993 in Grand Rapids, Michigan as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident.[8]


The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center listed Williams as one of the puppeteers that their National Puppetry Conference, a celebration of contemporary puppet theater held every summer, is dedicated to.[9] He also created The Citations of Excellence in the Art of Puppetry award, which is given out by UNIMA-USA.[10]


  1. Bradford Cody Williams on Facebook. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bess Liebenson (May 19, 1996) It's Puppets All Over at the Stamford Museum. The New York Times. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  3. The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry. University of Connecticut. Archived from the original on December 14, 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2019
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ellen Liberman (August 20, 1992) In Praise of Puppets. The Day. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  5. (August 18, 1981) Nickelodeon’s ‘Pinwheel’ puppeteers talk about their work. The Muscatine Journal Retrieved November 3, 2019
  6. GaryW48 (April 23, 2012) Hocus Focus early Nickelodeon TV show from 1981. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  7. Rick Lyon Rick Lyon -- Rex and Rita Saurus. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  8. (October 20, 1993) Bradford C. Williams Puppeteer, 42. The New York Times. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  9. About the National Puppetry Conference Eugene O'Neill Theater Center :: National Puppetry Conference. Archived from the original on April 21, 2015. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  10. Steven Widerman (August 14, 2018) The Citations of Excellence in the Art of Puppetry. UNIMA-USA. Retrieved April 17, 2019.

External links

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