Kenneth Williams Poster


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Overview (5)

Born in King's Cross, London, England, UK
Died in Camden, London, England, UK  (overdose of barbiturates)
Birth NameKenneth Charles Williams
Nicknames Ken
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (2)

The acting bug bit Kenneth Williams when, as a student, his English teacher suggested he try out for a school play. He found that he enjoyed it tremendously, but when he raised the possibility at home of becoming an actor, his father forbade it. Williams was eventually sent to art school in London in 1941. In 1944 he was drafted into the army, and although posted to the Royal Engineers, he managed to land a job in the Combined Services Entertainment unit, where he got a chance to act in shows that were put on to entertain the troops, and even designed the posters that advertised the shows.

After his discharge from the army he began to work as a professional actor, and traveled the country in repertory companies. It was in a production of "Saint Joan", where he played the Dauphin, that a radio producer saw him and hired him to do voice characterizations on a popular radio comedy show, "Hancock's Half Hour". His penchant for wild, off-the-wall characters led to his being hired by the producers of the "Carry On" comedy series, where he performed in 26 entries in the long-running series. When the series ended, Williams returned to radio work, and also made the rounds of the TV talk shows in addition to writing several books, including his autobiography. Later in his life Williams developed a serious ulcer, and was given medication to combat the pain. On April 15th 1988, he was found dead in his bed; it was determined that in addition to his regular pain pills, he had apparently taken some sleeping pills the night before, and the combination of those and his regular medication proved fatal.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: frankfob2@yahoo.com

The British comic actor Kenneth Williams was born in 1926 in a working class section of London, England, where he and his older sister Pat were raised by their parents Louisa and Charlie, who ran a hairdressing shop. At the age of 14, Williams began training as a lithographic draftsman and was later apprenticed to a cartographer. At this time, he also began to pursue his interest in acting by joining an amateur drama group. While serving in the army during World War II, Williams worked as a Royal Engineer in the Survey Section and later became an entertainer for the troops in the Combined Services Entertainments. After his release from military service in 1948, he worked in repertory theater around Britain, eventually ending up in London theater. During the 1950s, he made his name in popular revues, such as 'Share My Lettuce', 'Pieces of Eight' and 'One Over the Eight'. He also appeared with Maggie Smith in 'The Private Eye/Public Ear', Edith Evans in 'Gentle Jack' and Ingrid Bergman in 'Captain Brassbound's Conversion'. He was a good friend of the playwright Joe Orton and performed in his 'Loot' in 1967. Williams became a household name in Britain through his numerous performances in radio and television, even having his own television series The Kenneth Williams Show (1970), for a short time. Known for his snooty characterizations, his chief claim to fame is his many appearances in the British "Carry On" films, an extensive series of low-budget but immensely popular comedy films produced from the late 1950s through the late 1970s.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Lyn Hammond

Trade Mark (1)

Flaring nostrils & a nasal 'posh' accent

Trivia (32)

Son of a hairdresser.
Was in the Royal Engineers in 1945.
Was originally trained as a draftsman.
He and his family accompanied Barbara Windsor and her first husband Ronnie Knight on their honeymoon in Madeira.
The only actor in the "Carry On..." films to appear, along with Kenneth Connor and Eric Barker in the first (Carry On Sergeant (1958)) and last authentic "Carry On... films (Carry on Emmannuelle (1978)). This does not include the heavily criticised Carry on Columbus (1992).
His big break came about while playing a serious role on stage -- as the Dauphin in a production of "Saint Joan."
A self-confessed hypochondriac, he was plagued by ill health, including ulcers, toward the end of his life. His death from an overdose of sleeping pills and painkillers remains a mystery as to whether it was accidental or deliberate.
Williams publicly insisted that he was celibate, but in private found his homosexuality difficult for him to deal with. Was good friends with gay playwright Joe Orton and his companion Kenneth Halliwell, and performed in Orton's play "Loot" in 1965. Halliwell later murdered Orton in 1967 in a fit of rage with a hammer.
Upon his sudden death, the coroner recorded an open verdict, saying it was possible (but unlikely) that Williams had taken an overdose of sleeping pills in addition to his regular pain killers that caused a lethal cocktail. To this day, views are still divided as to whether it was deliberate or not. On one hand, he mentioned many times in his diaries that suicide was the only option, but he always seemed to bounce back from his bouts of depression. Many seem to think that suicide is unlikely simply because he would never have entertained such ideas while his mother was alive (she was left nothing in his will, presumably because Ken was expecting to outlive her).
Of the 30 films in the "Carry On..." series Kenneth Williams appeared in 25, more than any other actor. For the record he did not appear in Carry on Cabby (1963) , Carry on Up the Jungle (1970) , Carry on Girls (1973) , Carry on England (1976) and Carry on Columbus (1992) .
Regarded as a brilliant raconteur, he made many guest appearances on the original run of the television series Parkinson (1971), eight in total. Ironically, Williams was initially reluctant to be interviewed by Michael Parkinson, whom he described in his diary as a "north country nit".
Close friends included Stanley Baxter, Gordon Jackson and his wife Rona Anderson, Sheila Hancock, Maggie Smith and her playwright husband Beverley Cross.
Was very fond of the company of fellow "Carry On" regulars Barbara Windsor, Kenneth Connor, Jim Dale, Hattie Jacques, Joan Sims and Bernard Bresslaw.
Favourite Carry On was Carry On... Up the Khyber (1968). Kenneth also thought that of all his Carry On appearances, The Khasi of Kalabar will be the one that the audience will never forget.
Son of Charles (1899-1962) and Louisa (Lou) Williams (née Morgan) (1901-1991).
Was offered the part of Albright in Carry on Cabby (1963), but turned it down because he believed that it was an inferior script. The part was cut down and the best lines given to Charles Hawtrey. Norman Chappell played Albright.
Kept falling asleep while filming Carry on Nurse (1959), due to the combination of warm studio lights and acting on a bed. When director Gerald Thomas woke him up, Kenny would swear blind that he wasn't asleep. So the next time it happened, Thomas put a sign around his neck, and took a photograph. When Kenny tried to wriggle his way out of it again with protestations of not being asleep, Gerald showed him the photograph - apparently Kenny's language became very colorful.
His relationship with his parents - he adored his supportive, theatrical mother, Louisa ("Lou" or "Louie"), but hated his homophobic, morose and selfish father - was key to his personality. Williams later claimed that all his acting and comedic talent came from his mother.
Although his education was nothing special, he was a voracious reader throughout his life and in his interviews he could often quote entire poems or literary extracts purely from memory.
Had a stepsister named Alice Patricia (Pat) (1924-1996). She grew up with him.
Was a big fan of Gilbert and Sullivan' operas. They wrote fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896, of which H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado are among the best known.
He and Gordon Jackson co-wrote "Ma Crepe Suzette", a comedy song in which Williams sings random unrelated French words and phrases, in a suggestive fake French accent, to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne". Williams performed it live on TV the night after he and Jackson had written it.
Was a trained engraver. Worked as a map-maker during the war.
Listed calligraphy among his hobbies in Who's Who.
Was supposed to play The Brigadier in Carry on England (1976), but turned it down due to theatrical commitments. The role went to Peter Jones.
Despite being best known for the Carry On films, he disliked them, as he and his fellow cast members were poorly paid. In his diaries, Williams wrote that he earned more in a St Ivel advert than for any Carry On film. He often privately criticised and "dripped vitriol" upon the films, considering them beneath him. This became the case with many of the films and shows in which he appeared. He was quick to find fault with his own work, and that of others. Despite this, he spoke fondly of the Carry Ons in interviews. Peter Rogers, producer of the series, recollected, "Kenneth was worth taking care of because, while he cost very little - £5,000 a film, he made a great deal of money for the franchise.".
Was supposed to play Cecil Gaybody in Carry on Girls (1973), but turned it down due to theatrical commitments. The production team were desperate to have him in the movie, but his commitments wouldn't allow an appearance either way. The role went to Jimmy Logan.
Was supposed to play Professor Inigo Tinkle in Carry on Up the Jungle (1970), but was unavailable. The role went to Frankie Howerd.
Williams was a regular on the BBC radio panel game Just a Minute from its second season in 1968 until his death. He usually got into arguments with Nicholas Parsons the host and other members of the show. He was also remembered for such phrases as "I've come all the way from Great Portland Street" and "They shouldn't have women on the show!" (Directed at Sheila Hancock, Aimi MacDonald and others). On this show, he once talked for almost a minute about a supposed Austrian psychiatrist called Heinrich Swartzberg, correctly guessing that the show's creator, Ian Messiter, had just made the name up.
Was unhappy with the script for Carry on Emmannuelle (1978) because of how smutty it was and continually refused to do it. After numerous rewrites he still wasn't happy, and only did it out of friendship for the film makers. He got £6000 to take the role, his highest fee ever. .
He turned down work with Orson Welles in America because he disliked the country.
He had a famously antagonistic relationship with 'Carry On' co-star Sidney James. Williams was particularly scathing and personal about James's acting ability (as revealed in his posthumously published diaries), while James found Williams's loud and attention-seeking behaviour annoying.

Personal Quotes (22)

"Oh, stop messing about" (catch phrase)
Last words: "Oh, what's the bloody point?" (last entry in diary)
The thing to do, in any circumstance, is to appear to know exactly what you are doing and at the same time convey casual doubts about the abilities of everybody else and undermine their confidence. [In 1964]
This is very odd the way that Carry Ons are just starting to get mentioned: why are they suddenly fashionable? They're even starting to justify the bad scripts now! and talk about the classlessness of them. What hogwash! You can only call a mess a mess.
By 6:30 pain in the back was pulsating as it's never done before; so this, plus the stomach trouble combines to torture me - oh - what's the bloody point? - KW, last item in his diary before his death of an overdose
It's frightening to think, that with all the modern medicine and all the technique available to them, they can't really help you. I should think in the old days, you were better off, because nowadays they are all specialists. Everyone is becoming better and better, at less and less. Eventually someone is going to be superb, at nothing!
[on Dirty Harry (1971)] The morality behind the Don Siegel film is almost Homeric and epic. One man tries to do his job properly and when he does it for the last time under Promethean provocation, he resigns from the police force. It is the story of an individual conscience and it is beautifully shown. One is very glad that such pictures are being made and I hope they make a lot of money at the box office.
The nice thing about quotes is that they give us a nodding acquaintance with the originator which is often socially impressive.
People need to be peppered or even outraged occasionally. Our national comedy and drama is packed with earthy familiarity and honest vulgarity. Clean vulgarity can be very shocking and that, in my view, gives greater involvement.
I see myself as a roving mosquito, choosing it's target.
I found that if I got up on the stage to entertain the troops I could make them shut up and look.
We know grooming is important for people. To get their hair done, to get makeup and things like that - that makes a person feel better.
A fan club is a group of people who tell an actor he's not alone in the way he feels about himself.
Being nasty doesn't require intellect; any moron can be abusive. The distinguishing factor of great wit is to be nasty with style.
It was Noël Coward whose technique I envied and tried to emulate. I collected all his records and writing.
All problems have to be solved eventually by oneself, and that's where all your lovely John Donne stuff turns out to be a load of crap because, in the last analysis, a man is an island.
The quote, like opportunity, food and love, has got to come at the right moment. Blurted out, it can send your ego round your ankles.
Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me! (phrase from Carry on Cleo (1964))
Walked home via Aldwych. Reflected that nothing really changes. I'm still walking about this city dragging my loneliness with me, putting on a front, whistling in the dark. It is getting darker all the time.
This (Dr Zhivago) may be the Great Russian Novel, but it's a pain in the a*** as a film.
It's frightening to think with modern medicine and all the technique available to them, they can't really help you.
I know I'm male, and what's more I can prove it! (phrase from Carry on Matron (1972))

Salary (26)

Carry On Sergeant (1958) £900
Carry on Nurse (1959) £450
Carry on Teacher (1959) £1,500
Carry on, Constable (1960) £2,000
Carry on Regardless (1961) £3,000
Carry on Cruising (1962) £5,000
Carry On Jack (1963) £5,000
Carry on Spying (1964) £5,000
Carry on Cleo (1964) £5,000
Carry on Cowboy (1965) £5,000
Carry on Screaming! (1966) £5,000
Carry On... Don't Lose Your Head (1966) £5,000
Carry On... Follow That Camel (1967) £6,000
Carry on Doctor (1967) £5,000
Carry On... Up the Khyber (1968) £5,000
Carry on Camping (1969) £5,000
Carry on Again Doctor (1969) £5,000
Carry on Loving (1970) £5,000
Carry on Henry (1971) £5,000
Carry on at Your Convenience (1971) £5,000
Carry on Matron (1972) £5,000
Carry on Abroad (1972) £5,000
Carry on Dick (1974) £5,000
Carry on Behind (1975) £5,000
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1978) £7,500
Carry on Emmannuelle (1978) £5,750

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