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Society

Rebellious Poet And Actor Heathcote Williams Is Dead (Photos)

| by David Bonner

British poet, playwright, and actor Heathcote Williams has died at the age of 75.

He died on July 1 in Oxford, having been recently ill, reports The Guardian.

Williams was a prolific poet, writing in a documentary style that exhibited a keen sense of social criticism. "Sacred Elephant," "Whale Nation," and "Falling For a Dolphin" focused on animal rights, while "Autogeddon" took aim at the environmental toll of the automobile.

Due to his rebellious and free-spirited nature, he has been compared to great 18th century poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who famously drowned at age 29 and was the subject of Williams's 2012 poem, "Shelley in Oxford."

His final book of poetry, "American Porn," is described by its publisher as "a continuation of works addressing major global events" -- most notably, the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The publisher's blurb continues:

The world was shocked by the election of President Trump but was it really that surprising? In this timely collection of ‘investigative poems’ about American history, culture and politics, Heathcote Williams suggests -- with characteristic wit and literary invention -- that a nation which owes its very name to an early Italian pornographer, and which has been steeped for centuries in violence, artifice and greed, has reached its apotheosis in selecting such a leader.

Williams also penned numerous stage plays, the most well-known being "AC/DC," which premiered in 1969, and "The Local Stigmatic," which was commissioned by eminent playwright and rebel Harold Pinter, and later made into a movie starring Al Pacino. His most recent play, "Killing Kit," was about the life and death of 16th century poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe.

Williams appeared in over 20 motion pictures, according to the Film Reference website.  Most of his movie appearances were cameo roles in art films, but he can also be seen in the Hollywood comedy "Night Shift," starring Michael Keaton and Henry Winkler. He also acted with the likes of Salma Hayek and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Probably his most mainstream role as an actor was in an episode of the wildly popular sitcom "Friends."   

As a narrator, he recorded an audio book of the New Testament Bible. He was also an accomplished painter, though most of his paintings were exhibited in his own house. His was also a magician, and he was a member of The Magic Circle, which claims to be the world's premier magical society.

Williams also had a son, Charlie, who was adopted by Pink Floyd guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour, notes The Guardian. Williams reportedly walked out on the family when Charlie was less than a year old, claiming he couldn't handle having a family. 

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