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Kenneth Williams

1926-1988

 

Kenneth WilliamsBorn Kenneth Charles Williams on February 22nd. 1926 in King's Cross, London, the son of a railway van driver who later turned his hand to hairdressing, he was sent to study at the School of Lithography in 1940. He was evacuated to Bicester for a short time because of the war, but was able to return to his studies in 1941.

National Service (conscription into the armed forces) in 1944 saw Kenneth making maps for the Royal Engineers before being transferred to the Combined Services Entertainment touring Malaya and Burma.

Back in civvies in 1947, he managed to secure parts in a number of plays with provincial repertories. Acting in plays by Shaw, Ibsen, and Wilde proved an invaluable experience. Later, moving on to London, after a few minor successes he was able to take the West End lead in the revue "Share My Lettuce". Orson Welles directed him in "Moby Dick" and, it is rumoured, when Kenneth declined his offer to accompany him to America, he was told he would "tread the road to oblivion". How wrong he was proved!

From 1955 to 1958 Kenneth Williams was a favourite in BBC Radio's famous "Hancock's Half Hour". Then followed five years with "Beyond Our Ken", leading on to four years of "Round The Horne" where, with Hugh Paddick, we were introduced to the outrageously camp 'Julian and Sandy' sketches with more polari and gay innuendos than the general public could understand. Never the less they loved it and they tuned-in in their millions. "Stop Messin' About" followed in 1969. He was a key member of "Just A Minute!", a celebrity game show, from 1967 to 1987; a favourite Kenneth Williams
storyteller in "Jackanory"; the compére of the TV series "International Cabaret"; on "Desert Island Discs" in 1961 and again in 1987; had his own TV show "An Audience With Kenneth Williams"; and was a subject of "This Is Your Life". Notably, he appeared in twenty-six of the "Carry On" films.

Kenneth Williams lived alone, near his mother, in a Marylebone flat which he kept obsessively clean, never inviting anyone in for fear they may wish to use his lavatory while they were there. He once confided to his playwright friend Joe Orton that he felt a guilt about being homosexual, and that he had an abhorrence of any kind of sexual encounter. Away from his work, his release, he is thought to have led a mostly quiet, sad, unhappy life. Only 62 years old when he died in his sleep on the night of the 14th./15th. of April 1988, apparently of natural causes, he had been undergoing treatment for stomach ulcers and was in urgent need of surgery. Some, scrutinising his Diaries, have since seen fit to 'read between the lines', casting doubt on the actual cause of death in a shameful disrespect of the much loved and talented entertainer who despite his own often unhappy times in life gave pleasure unreservedly to millions.

Kenneth Williams, entertainer extraordinaire, with so much of his talent firmly embedded in celluloid and on tape, will 'carry on' to entertain generations to come. We haven't seen the last of those flaring nostrils yet!

 

Visit: http://web.archive.org/web/20061021101417/http://www.stopmessinabout.co.uk/            

 

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Acting:
"Peter Pan", 1952, theatre acting role as Slightly.
"The Wonderful Visit", 1952, television acting role as the angel.
"Trent's Last Case", 1952, film acting role.
"The Beggars' Opera", 1952, film acting role as Jack the potboy.
"St Joan", 1954, theatre acting role as the Dauphin in the play by George Bernard Shaw.
"Misalliance", 1954, television acting role as Bentley Summerhayes.
"The Seekers", 1954, film acting role.
"Cold Comfort Farm", 1956, television acting role as Silas Maydig.
"The Man Who Could Work Miracles", 1956, television acting role.
"Moby Dick", 1956, film acting role.
"Share My Lettuce", 1957, a revue.
"Carry On Sergeant", 1958, film acting role.
"Pieces of Eight", 1959, a revue.
"Carry On Nurse", 1959, film acting role.
"Carry On Teacher", 1959, film acting role.
"Carry On Constable", 1960, film acting role.
"One Over the Eight", 1961, a revue.
"Carry On Regardless", 1961, film acting role.
"Carry On Cruising", 1962, film acting role.
"Carry On Jack", 1963, film acting role.
"Catch As Catch Can", 1964, television acting role as Napoleon.
"Carry On Cleo", 1964, film acting role.
"Carry On Spying", 1964, film acting role.
"Loot", 1965, theatre acting role.
"Carry On Cowboy", 1965, film acting role.
"Carry On... Don't Lose Your Head", 1966, film acting role.
"Carry On Screaming", 1966, film acting role.
"Carry On Doctor", 1967, film acting role.
"Carry On... Follow That Camel", 1967, film acting role.
Carry On... Up the Khyber", 1968, film acting role.
"Carry On Again Doctor", 1969, film acting role.
"Carry On Camping", 1969, film acting role.
"Carry On Loving", 1970, film acting role.
"Carry On At Your Convenience", 1971, film acting role.
"Carry On Henry", 1971, film acting role.
"Carry On Abroad", 1972, film acting role.
"Carry On Matron", 1972, film acting role.
"Carry On Dick", 1974, film acting role.
"Carry On Behind", 1975, film acting role.
"Carry On Emmannuelle", 1978, film acting role.
"That's Carry On", 1978, film acting role.
"The Hound of the Baskervilles", 1978, film acting role.
"Carry On Laughing Christmas Classics", 1983, film acting role. Compilation of extracts from previous films.

Writing:
"Acid Drops", 1980, published London by J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 176 pages, ISBN 0460044826 (hardback).
"The Complete Acid Drops", 1999, published by Orion, 183 pages, ISBN 075281835X (hardcover).
"Back Drops: Pages From a Private Diary", 1983, published London by JJ. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 174 pages.
"Just Williams: An Autobiography", 1985, published London by J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.
1987, HarperCollins, 306 pages, ISBN 0 00 637082 9 (paperback).
Kenneth Williams"The Kenneth Williams Diaries", 1993, edited by Russell Davies, HarperCollins, 827 pages, ISBN 0 00 638090 5.
"The Kenneth Williams Letters", 1994, edited by Russell Davies, HarperCollins, 556 pages, ISBN 0 00 638092 1.
"Acid Drops", 1980, published London by J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 176 pages, ISBN 0460044826 (hardback).
"The Complete Acid Drops", 1999, published by Orion, 183 pages, ISBN 075281835X (hardcover).
"Back Drops: Pages From a Private Diary", 1983, published London by JJ. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 174 pages.
"Just Williams: An Autobiography", 1985, published London by J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.
1987, HarperCollins, 306 pages, ISBN 0 00 637082 9 (paperback).
"The Kenneth Williams Diaries", 1993, edited by Russell Davies, HarperCollins, 827 pages, ISBN 0 00 638090 5 (paperback).
"The Kenneth Williams Letters", 1994, edited by Russell Davies, HarperCollins, 556 pages, ISBN 0 00 638092 1. (paperback).

 

 

Our Camp Contenders

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JOHN INMAN.     LARRY GRAYSON.     PAUL O'GRADY     JULIAN CLARY.

KENNETH WILLIAMS.     DALE WINTON.     GRAHAM NORTON.     CHARLES HAWTREY.

 

 

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