Kenneth Haigh

Kenneth Haigh (25 March 1931 – 4 February 2018) was an English actor.[1] He first came to public recognition for playing the role of Jimmy Porter in the play Look Back in Anger in 1956 opposite Mary Ure in London's West End theatre. Haigh's performance in the role on stage was critically acclaimed as a prototype dramatic working-class anti-hero in post-Second World War English drama.

Kenneth Haigh
Simon Scott and Kenneth Haigh (right) in The Twilight Zone episode "The Last Flight" (1960)
Kenneth Haigh

(1931-03-25)25 March 1931
Died4 February 2018(2018-02-04) (aged 86)
London, England
Years active1956-2003
Spouse(s)Myrna Haigh (m. 1974 - div. 1985)

Early life

Born in Mexborough, West Riding of Yorkshire, Haigh studied drama at the Central School of Speech and Drama, at the time based at the Royal Albert Hall in London.[2]


He played the central role of Jimmy Porter in the premiere production of John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger in 1956 at the Royal Court Theatre. His performance in a 1958 Broadway theatre production of that play so moved one young woman in the audience that she mounted the stage and slapped him in mid-performance.[3] For the film version released in 1959, he was passed over in favour of Richard Burton. Coincidentally, he went on to portray the explorer and adventurer Richard Francis Burton in the BBC production of The Search for the Nile. He also briefly appeared in the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night (1964).

Later he portrayed Joe Lampton, a character created by John Braine in the novel Room at the Top, in the television series Man at the Top (1970–72) and the spin-off film Man at the Top (1973).

Haigh made occasional appearances on American television, and his most recognisable appearance is that of time-travelling Flight Lieutenant William Terrence Decker in The Twilight Zone episode "The Last Flight" (1960).[4] He also portrayed Pat Casey in Lionel Bart's Maggie May.

Personal life

Haigh married the West Indian model Myrna Stephens in 1974.[5] They divorced in 1985, but remained good friends; she nursed him through his final years of ill-health.


Haigh died on 4 February 2018, aged 86. He had spent his last years in a nursing home after oxygen deprivation led to brain damage in 2003, following his accidental swallowing of a bone in a restaurant in Soho.[6][7]


1954Companions in CrimeJohn Kendall
1956My Teenage DaughterTony Ward Black
1957Saint JoanBrother Martin Ladvenu
High FlightAnthony 'Tony' Winchester
1964A Hard Day's NightSimon MarshallUncredited
Weekend at DunkirkAtkins
1966The Deadly AffairBill Appleby
1968A Lovely Way to DieJonathan Fleming
1971Journey to MurderDirk BroganExample
1972Eagle in a CageNapoleon Bonaparte
1973Man at the TopJoe Lampton
1976Robin and MarianSir Ranulf
1978A Walk in the SunGeorge
1979The BitchArnold Rinstead
1983Night Train to MurderCousin Milton / Cousin Homer
1985Wild Geese IICol. Reed-Henry
1986A State of Emergency
1991ShuttlecockDr. Quinn
2004Mr BlueMr. BlueShort film
Final film role


  • Othello (Drogheda, 1952)
  • Dear Little Liz (Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, 1955)
  • Look Back in Anger (Royal Court Theatre, London, 1956) - Jimmy Porter
  • The Mulberry Bush (1956) - Peter Lord
  • The Crucible (1956) - Rev John Hale
  • Cards of Identity (1956) - Beaufort
  • Caligula (Broadway, 1960; Phoenix Theatre, London, 1964) - Caligula
  • Zoo Story (Arts Theatre, London, 1961)
  • Altona (Royal Court and Saville Theatres, 1961) - Franz von Gerlach
  • The Collection (The Aldwych, 1962)
  • Playing with Fire (The Aldwych, 1962)
  • Julius Caesar (Stratford, RSC 1962) - Mark Antony
  • Maggie May (Adelphi Theatre, London, 1964) - Patrick Casey
  • Too Good To Be True (Edinburgh Festival, 1965) - Burglar
  • Prometheus Unbound (Yale University Theatre, 1967) - Prometheus
  • Henry IV (Yale, 1967)
  • The Hotel in Amsterdam (Duke of York's Theatre, London, 1969) - Laurie
  • Much Ado About Nothing (Manchester, 1969) - Benedick
  • Equus (Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, 1969-70) - Dysart
  • Prometheus Unbound (Mermaid Theatre, 1971) - Prometheus
  • Marching Song (Mermaid Theatre, London, 1974) - Rupert Foster
  • The Father (Haymarket, Leicester, 1975) - Father
  • The Aspern Papers (Chichester Festival, 1978)
  • Twelfth Night (Stratford, CT, 1979) - Malvolio
  • Julius Caesar (Stratford, CT, 1979) - Brutus
  • The Tempest (Stratford, CT, 1979) - Prospero
  • Clothes for a Summer Hotel (Broadway, 1980) - F Scott Fitzgerald
  • Othello (Young Vic, London, 1982) - Othello


  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents "Specialty of the House" (1959) - Mr. Costain; "Banquo's Chair" (1959) - John Bedford
  • Search for the Nile (1971)
  • Man at the Top (Thames TV, 1971-73) - Joe Lampton
  • Moll Flanders (ITV, 1975) - Jemmy Earle
  • Hazlitt in Love (1977) - William Hazlitt
  • Maybury (BBC, 1981)
  • The Testament of John (1984)


  1. "Kenneth Haigh". Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  2. V&A, Theatre and Performance Special Collections, Elsie Fogerty Archive, THM/324
  3. "Woman Quits Audience to Slap Actor in Play". Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  4. "Movies". Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  5. "The Model Archives of Marlowe Press". London: Gavin L B Robinson. 1974. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  6. "Kenneth Haigh". The Times. 12 February 2018. Retrieved 12 February 2018. (subscription required)
  7. "Kenneth Haigh Obituary". The Guardian. 13 February 2018. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
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