Victoria Lk Williams Biography & Facts
Kenneth Charles Williams (22 February 1926 – 15 April 1988) was an English actor of Welsh heritage. He was best known for his comedy roles and in later life as a raconteur and diarist. He was one of the main ensemble in 26 of the 31 Carry On films, and appeared in many British television programmes and radio comedies, including series with Tony Hancock and Kenneth Horne, as well as being a regular panellist on BBC Radio 4's comedy panel show Just a Minute from its second series in 1968 until his death 20 years later.
Williams grew up in Central London in a working-class family; he claimed his father spoke cockney. He served in the Royal Engineers during World War II, where he first became interested in becoming an entertainer. After a short spell in repertory theatre as a serious actor, he turned to comedy and achieved national fame in Hancock's Half Hour. He sustained continued success throughout the 1960s and 1970s with his regular appearances in Carry On films, and subsequently kept himself in the public eye with chat shows and other television work.
Williams was fondly regarded in the entertainment industry; in private life, however, he suffered from depression. He kept a series of diaries throughout his life that achieved posthumous acclaim.
Early life and education
Kenneth Charles Williams was born on 22 February 1926 in Bingfield Street, Kings Cross, London. His parents were Charles George Williams, who managed a hairdressers in the Kings Cross area, and Louisa Alexandra (née Morgan), who worked in the salon. Charles was a Methodist who had "a hatred of loose morals and effeminacy", according to Barry Took, Williams's biographer. Charles thought the theatre immoral and effeminate, although his son aspired to be involved in the profession from an early age. Between 1935 and 1956, Williams lived with his parents in a flat above his father's barber shop at 57 Marchmont Street, Bloomsbury.Williams stated in his diaries that he believed he was of Welsh extraction because of his parents' surnames (Williams was later proven correct; both his parents were born in Wales). Williams had a half-sister, Alice Patricia "Pat", born in 1923 before Louie had met Charlie Williams and three years before Kenneth was born. He was educated at The Lyulph Stanley Boys' Central Council School, a state-owned Central school, in Camden Town, north London and subsequently became apprenticed as a draughtsman to a mapmaker. His apprenticeship was interrupted by the Blitz, and he was evacuated to Bicester, and the home of a bachelor veterinary surgeon. It provided his first experience of an educated, middle-class life, and he loved it. He returned to London with a new, vowel-elongated accent. In 1944, aged 18, he was called up to the British Army. He became a sapper in the Royal Engineers Survey Section, doing much the same work that he did as a civilian. When the war ended he was in Ceylon and he opted to transfer to the Combined Services Entertainment Unit, which put on revue shows. While in that unit he met Stanley Baxter, Peter Vaughan, Peter Nichols and John Schlesinger.
Williams's 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 Bernard Shaw's St Joan in the West End, 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. His nasal, whiny, camp-cockney inflections (epitomised in his "Stop messing about ... !" catchphrase) became popular with listeners. Despite the success and recognition the show brought him, Williams considered theatre, film and television to be superior forms of entertainment. In 1955 he appeared in Orson Welles's London stage production Moby Dick—Rehearsed. The pair fell out after Williams became annoyed with Welles's habit of repeatedly changing the script.When Hancock steered his show away from what he considered gimmicks and silly voices, Williams found he had less to do. Tiring of this reduced status, he joined Kenneth Horne in Beyond Our Ken (1958–64), and its sequel, Round the Horne (1965–68). His roles in Round the Horne included Rambling Syd Rumpo, the eccentric folk singer; Dr Chou En Ginsberg, MA (failed), Oriental criminal mastermind; J. Peasemold Gruntfuttock, telephone heavy breather and dirty old man; and Sandy of the camp couple Julian and Sandy (Julian was played by Hugh Paddick). Their double act was characterised by double entendres and Polari, the homosexual argot.
Williams also appeared in West End revues including Share My Lettuce with Maggie Smith, written by Bamber Gascoigne, and Pieces of Eight with Fenella Fielding. The latter included material specially written for him by Peter Cook, then a student at Pembroke College, Cambridge. Cook's "One Leg Too Few" and "Interesting Facts" were part of the show and became routines in his own performances. Williams's last revue, in 1961, was One Over The Eight at the Duke of York's Theatre, with Sheila Hancock.
Carry On films
Williams worked regularly in British film during the late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, mainly in the Carry On series (1958–78) with its double entendre humour; and appeared in the series more than any other actor. The films were commercially successful but Williams claimed the cast were poorly paid. In his diaries, Williams wrote that he earned more in a St Ivel advert than for any Carry On film, although he was still earning the average Briton's annual salary in a year for the latter. He often privately criticised and "dripped vitriol" upon the films, considering them beneath him, even though he continued to appear in them. 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 also 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."
Radio and television shows
Williams was a regular on the BBC Radio impromptu-speaking panel game Just a Minute from its second season in 1968 until his death. He frequently got into arguments with host Nicholas Parsons and other guests on the show. (Russell Davies, editor of The Kenneth Williams Letters, explains that Williams's "famous tirades on the programme occurred when his desire to entertain was fuelled by his annoyance.") He was also remembered for such phrases as "I've come all the way from Great Portland Street" (i.e. one block away) and "They shouldn't have women on the show!" (directed at Sheila Hancock, Aimi MacDonald and others). He once talked for almost a minute about a supposed Aus.... Discover the Victoria Lk Williams popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Victoria Lk Williams books.