Arthur Swemmer

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Arthur Swemmer (b. Johannesburg, 09/08/1912 – d. Johannesburg, 28/06/1971) was an actor.


Though Arthur Wilfred Swemmer is closely identified with the South African film industry, especially because of his appearances in the films of Jamie Uys and Emil Nofal, his film career was relatively short, stretching over little more than a decade. Before that he was an advertising copy writer, a journalist and for approximately a year before his death he wrote and edited the monthly magazine of the Standard Bank.

Long before he turned to the cinema, he was employed in radio. Starting as an announcer and effects producer, he joined I.W. Schlesinger’s original African Broadcasting Company in 1931, first in Johannesburg and then for a short period in Grahamstown. As early as 1937 he worked with André Huguenet, producing the sound effects for the radio play Tamboere in die Nag for the SABC, based on the novel Die Skerpioen by Hendrik Brand. He joined Huguenet on the stage in 1941 when he toured with the play As Mure Kan Praat. In his autobiography Applous! Huguenet refers to Swemmer as a radio personality and, in fact, he worked for both Springbok Radio and LM Radio before turning to films. On an internet blog music archivist Rob Allingham wonders whether the actor who appears in the film Stop Exchange was the same person who recorded as an Afrikaans vocalist in the late 30s and 40s. During World War II, Lt. Swemmer was a member of the UDF Entertainment Unit.

His film career started with small roles in three films by Gordon Vorster, but he subsequently he worked at least once with a number of the directors who were active at the time - Jan Perold, David Millin, Elmo de Witt, Richard Daneel and Mario Schiess. Slight of stature, he had a flair for comedy, brought out best when he worked with Jamie Uys and Emil Nofal, notably as the English lawyer who brings Uys the unwelcome news that he is now Lord Oom Piet and in the title role of Nofal’s King Hendrik.

He was married twice, first to Nora Isobel Henderson (divorced 1961) and then to Cora Sygun Heidrun Schaefer (1964), who as Cora Swemmer co-wrote the screenplay of his last film, Stop Exchange, with director Howard Rennie.


Die Jagters (Gordon Vorster/1960), Basie (Gordon Vorster/1961), Die Tweede Slaapkamer (Gordon Vorster/1961), As Ons Twee Eers Getroud Is! (Jan Perold/1962), Lord Oom Piet (Jamie Uys/1962), Kimberley Jim (Emil Nofal/1963), Seven Against the Sun (David Millin/1964), Tokoloshe (Peter Prowse/1965), King Hendrik (Emil Nofal/1965), All the Way to Paris (Jamie Uys/1966), Kavaliers (Elmo de Witt/1966), The Second Sin (David Millin/1966), Die Professor en die Prikkelpop / The Professor and the Beauty Queen (Jamie Uys/1967), Oupa for Sale (Richard Daneel/1967), Vrolike Vrydag 13de (Richard Daneel/1969), Die Vervlakste Tweeling (Mario Schiess/1969), Stop Exchange (Howard Rennie/1970)

German Television

Finden Sie Livingstone!: - die Suche nach dem verschollenen Forscher und Missionar (Theodor Grädler/1966), Diamantendetektiv Dick Donald (Episodes: Mac Bannister's Witwe & Aussteigen verboten) (Directors: Erich Neureuther & Jürgen Goslar/1971)


Rand Daily Mail, 31 December 1938

Scientia Militaria, Vol. 4 No. 2, 1974

Botha, Danie - Voetligte en applous!: die beginjare van die Afrikaanse broepstoneel

Huguenet, André - Applous!

Le Roux, André I. and Fourie, Lilla – Filmverlede: geskiedenis van die Suid-Afrikaanse speelfilm

Arthur Swemmer, IMDb[1]

Private correspondence

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