Kenneth Williams

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Kenneth Charles Williams (22 February 1926–15 April 1988) was a British comic actor, star of 26 Carry On films, numerous television shows, and radio comedies with Tony Hancock and Kenneth Horne.


Life and career

Kenneth Charles Williams was born on 22 February 1926 in Bingfield Street, King's Cross, London,[1] the son of Louisa ("Lou" or "Louie") and Charles Williams (a barber). Williams had a half-sister, Alice Patricia. He was educated at Lyulph Stanley School, later becoming apprenticed as a draughtsman to a mapmaker. He joined the army in 1944 at 18. As part of the Royal Engineers survey section in Bombay, he first performed on stage in the Combined Services Entertainment alongside Stanley Baxter and Peter Nichols.[2] He was a voracious reader able to quote poems or literary extracts from memory. Excerpts from the diaries he kept as an adult show he adored his supportive, theatrical mother but despised his homophobic, morose and selfish father.

Comic performer

His professional career began in 1948 in repertory theatre. Failure to become a serious dramatic actor disappointed him, but his potential as a comic performer gave him his break when he was spotted playing the Dauphin in George Bernard Shaw's St Joan in 1954 by radio producer Dennis Main Wilson. Main Wilson was casting Hancock's Half Hour, a radio series starring Tony Hancock. Playing mostly 'funny voice' roles, Williams stayed in the series almost to the end, five years later.[3] Williams' nasal, whiny, camp-cockney inflections (epitomised in his "Stop messing about...!" catchphrase) became popular with listeners.[4] Despite the success and recognition the show brought him, Williams thought theatre, film and television were superior forms of entertainment.

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