Death notice 1967



On the morning of August 9th a chauffeur arrived at Noel Road to take Orton to Shepperton studios to discuss filming ‘Up Against It’. There was no answer and on looking through the letterbox he saw the naked body of Halliwell on the floor. Contacting Peggy Ramsey, she said ‘Call the Police’.

On breaking down the door the police found a grisly scene. Orton was dead on the bed, killed by nine hammer blows to the head. Halliwell lay dead on the floor having taken an overdose of 22 Nembutal tablets. He had removed his blood soaked pyjama top and folded it neatly over the back of the desk chair. Police found a four line note resting on top of Orton’s diary. It simply read

If you read his diary all will be explained
P.S. Especially the latter part

In a final Ortonesque twist to the horrific scene it was found that Halliwell had died first. Though unconscious, Orton had taken many hours to die. Rigor mortis had set into Halliwell's body yet Orton’s sheets were still warm.

Halliwell’s funeral was held in Enfield, the only mourners were three relatives, who he had not seen for years and Peggy Ramsey, who had organised the funeral. Orton’s funeral was the next day, attended by his family, the cast of Loot, Ramsey and some friends and colleagues from the theatrical profession. As the coffin was brought in Orton’s favourite Beatles song, A Day in the Life, was played with the psychedelic passages crudely removed.

At the suggestion of one of Halliwell’s relatives, Ramsey arranged for Orton's and Halliwell’s ashes to be mixed together. Leonie mixed the ashes and commented ‘I think I’m putting in more of Joe than I am of Kenneth’, to which Ramsey replied ‘It’s a gesture dear, not a recipe’.

Orton’s brother Douglas agreed to the mixing of the ashes, ‘As long as nobody hears about this in Leicester’.

Image: Courtesy The Leicester Mercury   Text © Leicester City Councill  

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