Who were The Krays' celebrity friends?
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Secrets Of The Krays: Who were their celebrity friends and who has played them in movies and TV?

They mixed with the great and the good in Swinging Sixties London

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Secrets Of The Krays starts on ITV tonight (Tuesday January 25) and we are fascinated by their celebrity friends.

The three-part series charts the rise and fall of the infamous Cockney gangster twins in the 1960s.

Part of the Krays’ schtick was their lifestyle – including mixing with the great and the good of the showbusiness world.

So who were the Krays’ celebrity friends, and who has played them on TV and on film?

Who were The Krays' celebrity friends?
The Kray twins were notorious gangsters (Credit: ITV)

Secrets Of The Krays: What did The Krays do?

Born in the End of London, Ronnie and Reggie Kray became infamous as leaders of their notorious gang – the Firm – throughout the 1950s and 60s.

They specialised in armed robbery, assaults, protection rackets and even murder.

However, their reign of terror also coincided with one of the most colourful and prosperous times in recent British history.

Read more: Dame Barbara Windsor once issued with death threat from the Kray twins, new documentary reveals

The Swinging Sixties saw London ascend to the cultural capital of the world. Music, fashion, prosperity… the 1960s had it all.

And at the heart of it were the Kray twins.

As owners of nightclubs in the capital’s West End, they often rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous. They also became stars themselves and were even photographed by the era’s number one celebrity photographer, David Bailey.

Who were The Krays' celebrity friends?
Reggie and Ronnie had a host of celeb pals (Credit: ITV)

Who were their celebrity friends?

The great and the good passed through their nightclubs. Politicians rubbed shoulders with celebrities, and the twins often mixed with the likes of British sex symbol Diana Dors, and Hollywood legends Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland.

In his autobiography, Ronnie Kray wrote: “They were the best years of our lives.

“They called them the swinging sixties. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were rulers of pop music, Carnaby Street ruled the fashion world… and me and my brother ruled London.

“We were [bleeping] untouchable…”

Who were The Krays' celebrity friends?
Barbara Windsor allegedly dated one of the Kray twins (Credit: SplashNews.com)

Secrets Of The Krays: Friendship with Barbara Windsor

One of the Kray twins’ best-known celebrity acquaintances was the late EastEnders star, Dame Barbara Windsor.

As a young actress growing up in London, Barbara allegedly dated both Reggie Kray and the twins’ brother, Charlie.

In 1964, Barbara married nightclub owner Ronnie Knight – who was a contemporary and acquaintance of the Krays.

Another former EastEnder who claimed to be friends with one of the Kray twins is Shane Richie.

In his autobiography, Shane, 57, revealed he went to visit Reggie Kray when he was in prison in the mid-1990s.

He even claimed that the gangster burned down the office of an agent that owed him money.

“I gave him the guy’s name but thought no more of it,” Shane wrote.

“I don’t know exactly to this day what happened but word has it Reggie made a call, the agent told him where to go, and, low and behold, his office was burnt down…”

Who were The Krays' celebrity friends?
The Kemp brothers in The Krays (Credit: YouTube)

Who has played the Kray twins onscreen?

Because of their notoriety and the era in which they were synonymous with, TV and movie producers have always been fascinated by the Kray twins.

This fascination has led to numerous onscreen portrayals.

Perhaps the most famous is the 1990s movie, The Krays.

Read more: How old is Martin Kemp, how long has he been married and how old are his children?

Playing the twins in that were real-life siblings Martin and Gray Kemp.

Twenty-five years later, Tom Hardy played both twins in the movie, Legend.

Three more low-budget movies followed – The Rise Of The Krays, The Fall Of The Krays and Code Of Silence.

Simon Cotton and Kevin Leslie played Ronnie and Reggie respectively in the first two films, and Ronan Summers played both men in  the latter.

Additionally, Craig Parkinson played the alleged (and fictional) biological twin sons of Ronnie Kray in series two of Whitechapel.

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