Don Barrigo

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Don Barrigo (b. Whitechapel, London, 12/06/1906 – d. Johannesburg, 04/05/1977) was a musician and an actor.


Don Barrigo was born Israel Kahn in London, but obviously thought that this wasn’t a suitable name for an aspiring jazz musician and he soon changed it. Though primarily a reed player, he also became a capable violinist, arranger and orchestra leader. At the age of twenty he was already playing professionally, notably in London for the American saxophonist Don Parker, as well as for Teddy Sinclair and Maurice Winnick. Very much a musician-for-hire, he played for a number of dance bands that toured Great Britain, as well as Germany, Denmark and France, including the ensemble that accompanied Louis Armstrong on his 1932 visit to Europe. His most frequent and lengthy engagements were with Lew Stone and Nat Gonella, with whom he also made a number of recordings. In 1938 he was leading his own band as Don Barrigo and the Banditos and, like many musicians, during World War II he played in various orchestras supporting the armed forces as part of the war effort.

After the war he settled in South Africa. In 1948 Don Barrigo and his London Five played in lunch-hour jam sessions at the Plaza and the following year he headed a 20-piece jazz orchestra that played in the Selborne Hall. From then on his various bands played in hotels and clubs throughout Johannesburg and elsewhere, from the Hotel Chelsea in Hillbrow to the Oasis Club at the Savoy Hotel. After a jaw operation in 1953, he switched from reed instruments (saxophone, clarinet and flute) to the violin and fronted various bands. When there was a shortage of bookings, he ran a physiotherapy clinic - “Are you nervous, irritable, run-down? Don’t delay, phone Mr. Don Barrigo, M.S.F. (Eng.), the well-known expert, masseur and dietician and feel a new person within 24 hours”. In 1957 he featured in Stanley Nathan’s musical cabaret Tickle the Kitty, celebrating the golden jubilee of the South African Bowling Tournament. In between he had small roles in a number of films and television series, taught at the African Academy of Music at Dorkay House, published the Who’s Who in Entertainment and Sport in Southern Africa and reviewed popular recordings for the Rand Daily Mail.

In 1932 he had married the Danish-born Erna Frederiksen (born 1911) who, at the age of seventeen, had been a beauty queen. According to the illustrated weekly The Sketch, as Dania Barrigo she won a beauty competition organised by André Charlot and was featured in his revue How You’d Do? (1933). She also was a dancer in the film production of Chu Chin Chow (1934), but it is not known what became of her. (FO)



1959 – Satanskoraal (uncredited) (Director: Elmo de Witt), 1962 – Journey into Nowhere / Der Todt fährt mit (uncredited) (Director: Denis Scully), 1966 – Kavaliers (Director: Elmo de Witt), 1969 – Vrolike Vrydag 13de / Once upon a Friday (Director: Richard Daneel), 1969 – Stadig oor die Klippe (Director: Richard Daneel), 1970 – Satan’s Harvest (Director: Douglas K. Stone), 1971 – Pressure Burst (uncredited) (Director: George Canes), 1973 – Siener in die Suburbs (Director: Francois Swart), 1976 – Glenda (Director: Dirk de Villiers), 1977 – Tigers Don’t Cry / Target of an Assassin (Director: Peter Collinson).


1965 – Diamanten sind gefährlich (uncredited) (German TV series) (in 3 episodes) (Director: Hermann Kugelstadt), 1966 – Der Rivonia-Prozess (two-part TV movie) (Director: Jürgen Goslar), 1968 – Schatzsucher unserer Tage (German TV series) (in 7 episodes) (Director: Rolf von Sydow), 1971 – Diamantendetektiv Dick Donald (German TV series) (Episode: Blue Train) (Director: Jürgen Goslar), 1972 – Suchen Sie Dr. Suk! (German TV series) (in 4 episodes) (Director: Helmut Fönbacher) (09/08/1972), 1976 – Baby at Large (TV short) (Director: Cecil Jubber).


The Sketch, 30 May 1934

Rand Daily Mail, 15 January 1952 (and many other issues)

Tickle the Kitty theatre programme, 1957.

Go to ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to ESAT Personalities B

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page