C.J.W. Staas

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C.J.W. Staas (b. The Hague, Netherlands, **/**/1872 - d. Durban, 03/09/1919).


Dutch-born Cornelis Johan Willem Staas, also known as C. Staas or J.W. Staas, was a circus clown who was performing as Corry Zarif with the Frank Fillis Circus when the South African War broke out. He joined the Boer side and was subsequently captured at Mafeking on 12th May 1900. Deported to St. Helena, he landed up in the Deadwood Camp, where he wrote and acted in a one-act play entitled De Barbiersjongen. After the war and his release, he rejoined the circus, this time as the advance agent of first the Bostock and Wombwell Menagerie and later back with Frank Fillis. However, after Fillis’s bankruptcy he applied for permission to sue the individuals who had taken over the circus to claim the outstanding salary he said was owing to him. In 1918 he provided the original story for the Dick Cruikshanks film Fallen Leaves. One of the performers in the film was Adele Fillis, whom he would have known from her circus days. In 1919 the S.A. Pictorial of 8 March reported that Staas had just returned from the Western Front. When he made his will in July of that year he described himself as a printer and publisher from Pretoria. By that time he was already in a sanatorium in Durban, where he died two months later. His death certificate stated that he was a commercial traveller. He was not married and left his estate to his “friend and partner” Hendrik van Cittert, also a printer and publisher. (FO)


Die Huisgenoot, 24 October 1941

Parsons, Neil - Black and white bioscope: making movies in Africa 1899 to 1925 (2018)

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