Kenneth Halliwell born 23 June 1926 (d. 9 August 1967)
Kenneth Halliwell was a British actor and writer. He was the mentor, partner, and the eventual murderer of playwright Joe Orton.
Halliwell was raised in a somewhat split household. In general, he was ignored by his father and mollycoddled by his mother. His mother's death, which occurred when he was a young boy, was a great negative turning point in his life. Seemingly alone (as the relationship with his father was poor), his life was uneventful until, at the age of 23, he found his father dead, having committed suicide by putting his head in a gas oven. He reportedly determined his father was dead, performed a few household chores, then called for an ambulance.
It was at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 1951 that he met Orton, the man who was to make Halliwell's name almost as recognisable as his own. Both men were struggling actors without great talent who became struggling writers. However, their common interests led to the beginning of their relationship. Halliwell, in the early years, seems to have been something of a tutor to Orton, who had had a rather cursory education, and seriously helped to mold the writing style that would later be called "Ortonesque". The two men collaborated on several novels, including The Boy Hairdresser, which were not published until after their deaths. In 1962, along with Orton, he was imprisoned for six months for the theft and defacement of books in Islington Library.
Orton's emerging success as a writer, following their release from prison, put a distance between the two men which Halliwell found difficult to handle. His jealousy was fuelled by his own feelings of inadequacy and lack of attractiveness - he wore a toupee to conceal his baldness - compared to the confident, sexually-promiscuous Orton. Towards the end of his life, Halliwell was on regular courses of anti-depressants.
On August 9, 1967, Halliwell killed Orton by nine blows to his head with a hammer, and then overdosed on Nembutal sleeping pills shortly afterwards. Despite the violence of the murder, it was Halliwell who actually died first. The bodies of the two men were discovered late the following morning when a chauffeur came to the door of their Noel Road flat in Islington to collect Orton for a discussion with The Beatles over a screenplay he had written for them.
Halliwell's suicide note referred to the contents of Orton's diary as an explanation for his actions: "If you read his diary, all will be explained. KH PS: Especially the latter part." This is presumed to be a reference to Orton's description of his promiscuity; his diary contains numerous incidents of cottaging in public lavatories and other sexual relationships.
In Prick Up Your Ears, the 1987 film based on Orton's life, Halliwell was portrayed by Alfred Molina. A 2009 stage version of the story starred comedian Matt Lucas as Halliwell.
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