Richard Lyford got his start as a filmmaker after winning a film contest in his native Seattle. Shortly thereafter, he began working for Disney as a photographer and arranger of the models used by animators for painting backgrounds and characters. He made his directorial debut in 1950 with the Oscar-winning documentary The Titan: The Life Story of Michelangelo (1950). Lyford then moved to Saudi Arabia to produce Island of Allah and direct other films. Eventually, he returned to the States to work on Disney's television anthology Wonderful World of Color.