Fifty years on: do lost diary pages hold secret to Joe Orton murder?
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW IN SUNDAY LIFE MAGAZINE
THE sister of murdered playwright Joe Orton believes a former lover of her brother could hold the key to the killing and has appealed to the mystery man to come forward.
She is also hopeful that missing pages from her brother’s diaries can still be found – and could explain why he was killed.
Leonie Orton, the playwright’s 72-yearold younger sister, spoke exclusively to the Sunday Herald ahead of the 50th anniversary of the death of her brother, pictured right with his lover Kenneth Halliwell who killed him in their flat in Islington in London. The story was later turned into the film Prick Up Your Ears starring Gary Oldman as Orton. At the time, Orton was hailed as the greatest new talent in British theatre – with plays like What the Butler Saw, Loot and Entertaining Mr Sloane. But on August 9, 1967, he was beaten to death with a ham- mer by Halliwell, who then committed suicide by taking sleeping tablets.
Leonie Orton, who is appearing at the Edinburgh Book Festival, believes the missing pages cover the last few days of her brother’s life and that they could explain exactly why Halliwell snapped when he did.
In an interview in today’s Sunday Herald Life Magazine, Orton said: “I’ve been through the diaries and I’ve counted the days when Joe didn’t write anything, and he never missed more than a day writing in his diary. There’s pages missing – sure as birds can fly.”
She believes the pages may contain infor- mation about a new lover – and that when Halliwell read them he erupted, ripping out the relevant pages and destroying them.
But it is possible, she says, that her brother’s agent, Peggy Ramsay, may have removed the pages, perhaps to protect the identity of a famous man Joe was seeing. Leonie Orton is at the Bosco Theatre, George Street, Edinburgh at 2.30pm on Tuesday, August 22