Although it may sound really grim and dismal to include obituaries in the pages, the simple reason is that they provide a potted history of Kenneth (mistakes and all) and if I was determined to track them down, then I am sure others of you are as well. The following are a selection of obituaries and related articles from various newspapers at the time of Kenneth Williams death. I have tried to keep the original format where possible, but in different browsers this may show up oddly.

Please choose a newspaper, or just scroll down to read them all.

The Times The Telegraph The Express/Express on Sunday

The Times, Saturday 16th April, 1988

The following appeared on page two of the above edition heading the NEWS ROUNDUP of the HOME NEWS.

Kenneth Williams is found dead

Kenneth Williams, the star of Carry On films who made his name on Tony Hancock’s radio comedies, was found dead at his London home yesterday. He was 62.
Mr Michael Anderson, his agent, said it was believed he had died of natural causes. On Thursday Mr Williams had been told that he would need emergency surgery for a gastric ulcer.
He appeared in 22 Carry On films and on radio he was an unstoppable winner of Just A Minute and in earlier years contributed a fund of voices to Kenneth Horne’s Beyond Our Ken and later Round The Horne.
He was a chat show regular for 20 years and was given his own television show. Tributes poured in from his co-stars. Frankie Howerd. the comedian said "He created a unique comic personality."
Obituary, page 12 (below)



Comedian of many colours

Kenneth Williams, comedian and actor, died yesterday, at the age of 62.
He was a natural comedian: a chamelion of speech (in which he was most influenced by Noel Coward) and a brilliant racontuer often given ot outraged facial distortions as though suddenly exposed to a leaking drain. His humour was awash with camp and jokes of the dubious kind - all bloomers and army medical examinations, which died in the music halls only to be revived on television.
He will, perhaps, be most remembered for his many Carry On films - exercises in wholesale vulgarity, adenoidal whinnying and the double entendre, all served up in generous dollops. Smut, like beauty, was in the eye of the beholder.
Kenneth Williams was born on London's Caledonian Road on February 22, 1926. Early in his childhood the family moved to a flat over a hairdressing shop in Bloomsbury. He went to LCC schools where, as he recalled, his scholastic achievements were "non-existent".
His father, a strict Methodist and van driver with the London, Midland and Scotish Railway, insisted that he learn a trade, and, at the age of 14, he became an apprentice to a cartographer.
During the war, and at the age of 18, he joined the Army and was assigned to make maps for the Royal Engineers. It was while in the Army, feeling "very small and inferior", that he discovered his gift for making people laugh. But people kept telling him to get his knees brown. "Get your knees brown!" they'd say.
He was transferred to Combined Services Entertainment, touring Malaya and Burma, and fetching up at the
Victoria Theatre, Singapore. He and Stanley Baxter were put on as a double act.
By now, he was discovering that, if he got up on the stage, he could make them shut up and look. He believed that his impressions of women were quite good, until the colonel said, "You're and embarrassment", and Williams went into the wings, and wept. He was told that it would be better in Kuala Lumpur, but it never was.
Back in London in civvies after the war, plagued by the fear of poverty which never left him, he thought it best to return to draughtmanship. But he found the office routine unbearable. He subsisted for a time on a rapidly dwindling Army gratuity and sat alone in his room listening to the gramaphone. He wrote to all the provincial repertories, and at last was given a job in Newquay. The experience there stood him in good stead - Shaw, Ibsen, Wilde.
He was Slightly in Peter Pan with Brenda Bruce; appeared in SaintJoan at the Old Vic; and took the West End lead in the revue Share My Lettuce - one performance of which had to be cancelled after he overslept. Orson Welles directed him in Moby Dick,
but Williams declined his offer to go to America. "You will tread the road to oblivion", Welles intoned. Ooooh, how dreadful, thought Williams.
He was a friend of Joe Orton who wrote Loot for him and which he directed at the Lyric, Hammersmith, in 1980. But he did not, he confessed, belong to the Hamlet brigade.
Listeners first got to know him well in Beyond Our Ken and Hancock's Half Hour, and, later, in Round the Horne and Just a Minute. A younger audience avidly followed his story-telling in Jackanory, and wrote to tell him so.
On televison, he got his own show, and also presented International Caberet. He was his usual wildly outrageous self, but the material was woefully thin.
Kenneth Williams was, as the cliches go, and intensely private man and a confirmed bachelor. He religiously kept a diary since he was a boy, tempered and expurgated extracts from which went into his autobiography, Just Williams, and his several other anecdotal books.
He was devoted to a small circle of friends, and to his mother. He was a clown by choice, and an extremely gifted clown at that, who only appreared not to take himself seriously.
He was a self-educated man with a passion for reading, mainly biography and history. He studied gothic calligraphy and illuminated manuscripts, and enjoyed Brahms and Schumann. He read peotry and admired Erich Heller as the critic who most lovingly made the pleasures of German literature available to one who did not understand German.
Like many in his laugh-making profession, he seemed to live under a cloud; but even not to know him was to like him.

The Telegraph, Saturday 16th April, 1988

Kenneth Williams is found dead

By Jane Thynne, Media Correspondent

KENNETH WILLIAMS, start of the Carry On films and Round the Horne and a superlative performer on BBC's Just a Minute, died yesterday in his sleep. He was 62.
He was found in his central London flat, where he lived alone, by his 87-year-old mother, Mrs Louisa Williams, who lives with his sister in the same block.

He had been undergoing treatment for stomach ulcers. According to friends, Williams, who had often said that he did not want to live beyond 65, had recently lost weight.
Kenneth Williams had made 22 Carry On films and had been due to start shooting the next film in the series later this year. More recently he had hosted the Terry Wogan Show and in 1980 directed Loot by his friend Joe Orton.
He had also written and autobiography, Acid Drops, in which he said his nasal camp and his motto "Stop Messing About" would never go out of fashion.
Frankie Howerd, a co-star in the Carry On films, said yesterday that Williams has never wanted to play serious roles.
Gordon Jackson, the actor, said Williams's flippancy belied a more serious side of his character. "He was a solitary man and not at all gregarious."
Obituary - P3 (below)


Kenneth Williams: image of a somewhat soiled garden pixie

By Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd

KENNETH WILLIAMS, the actor who has died aged 62, was an extraordinarily original entertainer, whose range of hilariously exaggerated voices and expressive face, with its famous flared nostrils, gave immense pleasure to millions.
Although best known for his outraged double-takes amid the bawdy double-entendres in the Carry On films and his contributions to such radio series as Round the Horne and Just a Minute - not to mention innumerable TV chat shows - Williams was also a talented stage actor.
He excelled not only in revue, but also in the "legitimate" theatre where his roles included the Dauphin in St Joan, Elijah in Orson Welles's production of Moby Dick and the title role in Gentle Jack opposite Edith Evans - the subject of many a Williams anecdote.
On learning that the Dame had remarked on Williams's "peculiar voice," he replied, "I think that's a bit much coming from her!"
Probably his best stage performance was as the private detective in the Peter Schaffer play The Public Eye, together with his old friend from revue, Maggie Smith, at the Queen's in 1963.
A slight, diminutive figure, away from the limelight Williams had little in common with his camp public image.
Shy amd serious, he acquired the intense erudition of the autodidact, immersing heimself in music, philosophy and literature.
'I protected myself by play-acting'
"If they think our comedy is all tits and bums," he once wrote in the Telegraph Sunday Magazine about the prospect of being interviewed for a French documentary about the British cinema, "I'll point out the precedents set by Aristophanes as well as Plautus.
"And I'll bring in that bit about Alberoni embracing the posterior of the Duke of Vendame when the latter rose from the chaise percee.
Like all genuinely funny people, Williams was a melancholic.
He lived alone in a small, obsessively tidy flat in Marylebone and, so the story went, never invited anybody in, in case they might wish to use his lavatory: "I can't stand the idea of another bottom on my loo."
Thought he was friendly with flambouyant homosexuals - notably Joa Orton the playwright - and played such characters with panache, Williams had a horror of sex.
"I'm basically guilty about being a homosexual, you see," he once confided to Orton, who noted it in his diaries: "Kenneth W. isn't able to have sex properly with man or woman.
His only outlet is exhibiting his extremely funny personality in front of an audience and when he isn't doing this he's a very sad man indeed."
Supremely disciplined, he appeared to be frightened byt he spectre of self-indulgence and dined most days with his mother, to whom he was especially close.
His father, a strict Methodist, had managed a hairdressing shop. Kenneth Williams was born in the Caledonian Road, North London, in 1926 and educated at Lyulph Stanley School in Mornington Cresent.
He remembered his schooldays in the familiar manner of comedians: "I was vunerable and weak, so the only way I could protect myself was by play-acting. The bigger boys liked my jokes and impressions of teachers."
At the age of 12 he left school to study lithography at Bolt Court, off Fleet Street, and then found employment as a draughtsman.
During the 1939-45 war he served in the Royal Engineers survey section in Bombay and at the end of the hostilities was posted to the map reproduction section as Kurunegala, Ceylon.
In 1946 he managed to obtain a posting to Combined Services Entertainments based at Singapore, only to fail the audition. His effeminate patter act - "Are you one of Wingate's men?" "No, I'm one of Colgate's girls! - was ill-received and resulted in a "RTU" (Returned to Unit).
He persuaded them to let him stay and produce posters, however, on one occasion when an actor failed to turn up, he found himself on stage.
Soon he was appearing with his great friend and mentor Satnley Baxter in the sort of revues which were guyed so lovingly in Privates on Parade - written by another CSE alumnus, Peter Nichols.
One of Williams's routines out East went: "My granny's got a nose like a Malayan peninsula, with a wart at Singapore." He also specialised in impersonations of Nellie Wallace.
Demobbed witht he rank of Sergeant, Williams returned disconsolately to the drawing board.
But Baxter urged him to become a professional actor and in 1948 Williams made his first appearance on the English stage as Ninian in The First Mrs Fraser at the Newquay Repertory Theatre.

Honest vulgarity's traditional humour
Several years' experience in rep followed before he acheived a London engagement. But his West End debut as Slightly in Peter Pan was a disaster.
As the Dauphin in Shaw's St Joan at the Arts in 1954, he seemed like just a good, sound serious and vocally incisive player.
He confirmed that impression in Orson Welles's idea of Moby Dick at the Duke of York's.
But began to show hints of what was to come in Sandy Wilson's The Buccaneer at the Apollo, which was all about classical boys' magazines and brought out Williams's eternal boyishness (some said puerility) with special force.
He held his own as Maxime in Hotel Paradiso, London's first English experience of Feydeau at the Winter Garden in 1956, with Alec Guinness and Irene Worth romping about.
But he seemed immediately in his peculiar, gnome-like element with Maggie Smith, then unknown, in Bamber Gascoignes's revue Share My Lettuce.
Revue was then still in fashion, having its last gasp before Beyond the Fringe, and Williams became a striking example of its value in developing a technique of direct, incisive, split-second timing.
Revue developed personality faster in a player than any other form of theatre, and Williams was among the quickest.
The personality in his case was to become that of a friendly, leering and highly comical mimic with no particular, satirical power or character which he could call his oen but with a warmth and wit which sprang directly from his vocal and physical attribute: the assorted voices, the deadpan stares and the way he addressed most people down his nose.
Williams went next to lead two Peter Cook revues in succession - Pieces of Eight and One Over the Eight (1959 and 1961).
After these his campness was to resist restraint for the rest of his career. It was seldom more fascinatingly exhibited than as Julian in Peter Schaffer's double bill at the Globe, The Private Ear and the Public Eye.
As a stage actor his talent could be said to have gone to seed by exploiting its tricks to the point (for some people) of nausea.
His Inspector Truscott int he first and unsuccessful pre-London tour of Loot by his friend Joe Orton, was probably too much of a caricature.
The character could not hold the stage with authority while daft doings were going on all round him if the actor playing him knew that he was being funny.
Williams was to appear intermittantly in several other light West End comedies; but perhaps he needed the discipline of a basically serious text if his "legitimate" acting was not to look tongue-in-cheek.
He kept it more or less invisible at the Cambridge in 1971 for Shaw's Captain Brassbound's Conversion - mainly out of respect, one imagines, for the grace and beauty of Ingrid Bergman, who was at the helm of the revival.
Towards the end of his career he directed two of Joe Orton's plays at Hammersmith, Loot (which had never reached London when he was in it) and Entertaining Mr Sloane.
But more than for his stage work, it si for his joyfully broad characterisations int he Carry On series that Kenneth Williams will be most fondly remembered - as and effete Caesar, for example, in Carry On Cleo ("Infamy! Infamy! They've all go it in-for-me!"), as the preposterously exotic Khazi in Carry On Up The Khyber, or the NCO with ludicrous pretensions to gentility in Carry On Sergeant.
"I like smutty old jokes," he said. "Honest vulgarity is the central tradition of English humour, and uninhinitednedd the essence of comedy."
Williams's catch-phrase of "Stop Messing About," delivered in a glutinous Cockney whine, became a celebrated feature of the two Kenneth Horne radio series, Beyond Our Ken and Round the Horne.
Here Williams's repertoire of accents was given full rein from his agricultural burr of "The answer lies in the soil" to the strangulated tones of choleric colonels.
Together with Hugh Paddick on the Horne shows he created a double act featuring the adventures of two outrageously camp chorus boys, Julian (Jules to you, ducky") and his friend Sandy.
His brilliant, self parodying improvisations in Just a Minute provided some of the most inspired moments on radio in recent times.
Williams had first come to prominences on that medium in Hancock's Half Hour but tony Hancock grew jealous of his partner's following.
"It's a gimmick, a funny voice, it's cartoon stuff, I don't want it in the show." he said when he sacked him.
But the public delighted in the bizarre and stylised comic persona Williams was fashioning for himself: a somewhat soiled garden pixie, exultantly queer, adenoidal and insolent.
Children, in particular, revelled in Williams idiosyncratic delivery and he became a popular presenter of Jackanory.
His readings of the Just William stories were especially relished by admirers of Richmal Crompton.
He launched a new television career as the compere of International Cabaret, where his anecdotal patter between acts led to a constant round of chat show appearances.
Recently Williams was thrilled when asked to sit in for Terry Wogan as host of the thrice-weekly BBC1 programme.
Few comedians, even those who write their own material have a capacity fot producing good prose at anywhere near book length. Williams did, and could speak fromt he page in his own unmistakable voice.
His first book, Acid Drops (1980), a collections of "put downs", included much first rate material, welded together with characteristic comments.
Perhaps it was the success of this book that led Williams to the more self-indulgent Back Drops (1983), supposedly a dieary of his year, which showed every sign of heavy re-writing.
Although remarkably well presented and showing to good effect his remarkable knowledge of English literature (particularly peotry, for which he had an amazing capacity for quotation from memory), it suffered from his conviction that anything he said or wrote was "a little gem".
When he came to produce Just Williams (1985), his autobiography dealing maily with his childhood and war service in India and South-East Asia, his natural skill as a storyteller overcame his tendency to be funny at all costs.
Williams's own account of his CSE days served to give verisimilitude to the otherwise unlikely story of Peter Nichols's Privates on Parade.
Obviously when engagements as a performer were coming thick and fast, Williams had little time to settle down to serious writing.
This is a pity because he had considerable natural gifts which an editor, not too dazzled by the incessant flow of spoken words, could have harnessed most effectively.
Williams claimed to be unworried by the passing years and the prospect of death: "The shorter the better. I think to go at 65 or 70 is fine. Why hang about?".

The Express/Express on Sunday

I missed you and I always will

KENNETH WILLIAMS' voice used to file my nerves short as broken nails. Add my utter detestation of Carry On films and I shouldn't be so grieved that fate has so suddenly carried Mr Williams off.

In fact I'm terribly upset.

I can't believe he'll never again play the flute down that razor thin nose. Never again make a simple exclamation like "Oh"sound like an entire alley full of trodden on cats.

I'm kicking my typewriter for never asking Mr Williams for an interview just because I never thought he'd die.

He was a one off. Truly unique.

That unforgettable voice had what seemed to be a peculiar life of its own.

Mr Williams, I'm sorry I missed you when I had my chance, and I really chall miss you.

20th April 1988, writer unknown

Tributes to comic

SHOWBIZ stars, friends and family attended the funeral of comedian Kenneth Williams yesterday. The service as St Marylebone Crematorium, North London, was attended by stars including Barbara Windsor and Stanley Baxter. The 62-year-old actor died at his Regent's Park home last Friday.

23rd April 1988

Memories carry on at Kenneth's funeral


THE FUNERAL of comedian Kenneth Williams was held in private yesterday, attended by just friends and family.

Showbusiness stars including Barbara Windsor and Gordon Jackson were among the the mourners at St Marylebone Crematorium, North London.

The service was also attended by the Carry On star's sister Pat and their mother Louie, 87, who raised the alarm when Mr Williams, 62, was found dead at his Regent's Park home last Friday.

23rd April 1988

Don joins the Carry On fun

COMEDIAN Don MacLean is to join the Carry On team in its movie comeback layer this year. Don will be joining Barbara Windsor, Joan Sims and Jack Douglas in the cast. He will not be replacing Kenneth Williams. The producers are still deciding who will step into Kenneth's shoes and lead the cast.

Memories Carry On: Page 10 (NEXT ARTICLE)

23rd April 1988