Kenneth Williams Poster

Trivia (45)

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 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.

He was considered for Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971).

His favourite Carry On was Carry On Up the Khyber (1968). He thought that of all his Carry On appearances, The Khasi of Kalabar will be the one that the audience will never forget.

He would only accept parts with which he felt comfortable and over the years came to prefer tv and films to stage work. He didn't like the unsocial hours of the theatre and no longer relished doing the same thing night after night with the same people.

He trained as a lithographer and in his spare time acted with the amateur Tavistock Repertory Theatre,.

He did several years in repertory until his performance in Henry VI in Birminham attracted attention. He signed with the Old Vic but after a weeks rehearsal was released from his contract at his own request having chosen instead to appear in the tv version of H.G.Wells 'Wonderful Visit.

In WWII he served in with the Royal Engineers in the South East Asia Command in India then toured Malaya and Burma as part of the Combined Entertainment Unit and it was this experience that prompted him to his hand in show business.

His film career started after Peter Rogers saw him in the stage show 'Share My Lettuce'and signed for Carry on Sergeant'.

Although appearing regularly on stage and in cabaret it was radio shows such as 'Round the Horne' and 'Beyond Our Ken' and later 'Hancock's Half Hour' that his inimitable voice became instantly recognizable particularly his catch phrase 'Stop Messing About'.

Became more of a recluse during the final years of his life, until his mother was the only person whom Kenneth Williams communicated.

He and fellow radio performer Tony Hancock didn't get along as Williams felt Hancock was threatened by him, regarding overall acting ability.

Could be capable of displaying bizarre and outrageous behavior and regardless of whether or not he was in mixed company.

Wasn't very keen on being approached by the general public and was known for being a bit waspish with them.

Regarded Kenneth Horne as the father he always wanted and was devastated by Horne's sudden passing in 1969.