Barney Barnato

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Barney Barnato can refer to actual person, or to the title of the TV mini-series made of his colourful life (1989).

Barney Barnato (1852-1897)

He was a mining magnate, boxer and entertainer.

Born Barnett Isaacs ("Barney") in England. Came to South Africa in 18** as an impoverished boxer and entertainer. Succesfull investments in Kimberley diamonds turned him into a major mining magnate and life Governor of De Beers Consolidated Mines (which he and Rhodes founded in 1888). Member of Cape Parliament for Kimberley (1889-1897) and founder of Johannesburg Consolidated Investment Co. in 1889. In Kimberley he initially continued his interest in both boxing and theatre, often appearing on stage in the old Theatre Royal (Kimberley). Popular with the miners for his fiery performances, despite his lack of education and uncouth pronunciation. Apparently great in character parts, he also played Iago once in a production of Othello in aid of the Kimberley hospital. (He had offered to double the takings, if allowed to play the part.) Died when he allegedly fell overboard in mid-ocean when travelling from England. In Johannesburg the Little Theatre was renamed the Barnato Theatre in his honour.


See: Bosman 1928, Bosman, 1981, Fletcher, 1994, De Beer, 1995

Barney Barnato (TV mini-series, 1989)


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