Berdine Grünewald

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Berdine Grünewald (b. 15/08/1914 – d. 07/08/1994) was an actress and illustrator.


Born Anne Bernadine Groenewald, Berdine Grünewald was considered by many to have been one of the most attractive women to have appeared on the South African stage. A classically trained actress, she started her theatrical career at the age of 21 when, in 1935, she took over the role of Esther, originally played by Elsa Fouché, in Oom Paul, presented by Hendrik and Mathilde Hanekom’s touring company. She stayed with the Hanekoms for three years and then joined André Huguenet for Die Kwaksalwer in 1939 and several other productions. She also made a number of appearances for the Volksteater and the National Theatre Organisation. She and Huguenet remained close and she played Ophelia opposite him in his Afrikaans-language version of Hamlet in 1947 and as Lady Macduff in Macbeth in 1950. In 1951 she visited Australia with the British Commonwealth Theatre Company and in 1955 worked with Ruth Oppenheim at Johannesburg’s Windmill Theatre. Her last stage performance in South Africa was in Die Dame met die Kamelias in 1966.

In 1939 she married Barend Botha, a medical practitioner, but this marriage may have ended in divorce. Then, in 1960 she married the American playwright, screenwriter and popular/controversial science writer Robert Ardrey and as Berdine Ardrey illustrated three of his books on the science of human origins: African Genesis (1961), The Territorial Imperative (1966) and The Social Contract (1970). They initially settled in Rome’s Trastevere neighbourhood and 1977 came back to South Africa to live in Kalk Bay. Robert died there in 1980 and Berdine in 1994.



1934 – Oom Paul (Directed by Hendrik Hanekom) (took over from Elsa Fouché in 1935), 1936 – [[Erfsonde]] (Directed by Hendrik Hanekom), 1937 – Die Geleende Bruid (Directed by Hendrik Hanekom), 1937 – Generaal de Wet (Directed by Hendrik Hanekom), 1938 – Deugniet en Korrelkop (Directed by Hendrik Hanekom), 1938 – Nita die Danseres (D.K.T. Teaters), 1939 – Die Kwaksalwer (Directed by André Huguenet), 1939 – Die Tweede Grieta (Directed by André Huguenet), 1940 – As Mure Kan Praat (Directed by André Huguenet), 1941 – Lenie (Directed by Anna Neethling-Pohl for Volksteater), 1941 – Maria Stuart (Directed by Anna Neethling-Pohl for Volksteater), 1942 – Satansloon (Directed by Pierre de Wet for Teatergroep), 1945 – Die Rooi Pruik (Produced by Siegfried Mynhardt for Die Maskerspelers and later taken to North Africa to be performed for South African troops in Cairo), 1946 - Die Kerkmuis (Directed by Ossip Runitsch), 1947 – Hamlet (Directed by Anna Neethling-Pohl & Siegfried Mynhardt), 1948 – The Witch (Johannesburg Repertory Society), 1949 – Minnaar Onder die Wapen (Directed by Marda Vanne for National Theatre Organisation), 1949 – Die Indringer (Directed by Siegfried Mynhardt for National Theatre Organisation), 1950 – Macbeth (Produced in Afrikaans by Gwen ffrangcon-Davies for National Theatre Organisation), 1951 – The Devil’s Disciple (Produced by Ngaio Marsh for British Commonwealth Theatre Company in Sydney), 1955 – Six Characters in Search of an Author (Produced by Ruth Oppenheim at Windmill Theatre, Johannesburg), 195* - The Immoralist (Produced by Ruth Oppenheim at Windmill Theatre, Johannesburg), 1956 – Gekonkel in die Nag (National Theatre Organisation), 1958 – Skrikkeljaar (Directed by Robert Mohr for National Theatre Organisation), 1966 - Die Dame met die Kamelias (Directed by René Clermont for CAPAB).


She only acted in a few films. She played, uncredited, in Zoltan Korda’s film version of Cry, the Beloved Country (1951), acted in Bladon Peake’s Inspan (1953) and was in the now totally forgotten Die Leeu van Punda Maria (1954), made on 16mm by Gerrie Snyman.


Together with the likes of Hendrik Hanekom, Mathilde Hanekom, Antonius Ferreira, Jacques Lochner and Johann Lubbe she acted in Tamboere in die Nag, the first Afrikaans radio series adapted from the detective story Die Skerpioen by Hendrik Brand.


Binge, L.W.B. - Ontwikkeling van die Afrikaanse toneel (1932 tot 1950) (1969)

Botha, Danie - Voetligte & applous!: die beginjare van die Afrikaanse beroepstoneel (2006)

Le Roux, André I. & Fourie, Lilla – Filmverlede: geskiedenis van die Suid-Afrikaanse speelfilm (1982)

Minnaar-Vos, Anna - Die spel gaan voort: die verhaal van Hendrik en Mathilde Hanekom (1969)

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