Eric Egan

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(b. King William’s Town, 14/05/1903 – d. Johannesburg, 01/09/1967). Radio broadcaster, actor.

Biography

When, on 1 May 1950, Springbok Radio began broadcasting, the first voice listeners heard was that of Eric Egan, who went on to become one of the country’s most popular radio announcers. His daily Breakfast Show was required listening in many households and his “corny cracks” were passed on during the day. He was born Eric Ginsberg, the eldest son of Gustav Ginsberg and his American-born wife, Edith. His father had studied dentistry in his native Germany, but the fact that his qualifications were not recognised in South Africa caused continuous problems. As a result the family returned to Germany, where Eric went to school, but in 1920 they were eventually able to resettle in South Africa.

Before moving into broadcasting, Eric did whatever work he could obtain, including, at the time of his second marriage, as an advertising consultant. Then, in 1934, as radio editor of the Sunday Express, he went for an audition at I.W. Schlesinger’s African Broadcasting Company and was given the opportunity to take over the early morning fitness programme. When he went overseas to gain experience, he worked for the BBC, Radio Luxembourg and, at Radio Normandy, handled Doing the Daily Dozen, another physical exercise programme. He also was also in the cast of the first season of the BBC's popular ITMA series, which starred Tommy Handley. However, with the outbreak of World War II, he returned to South Africa and rejoined what was by then the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

Part of the Breakfast Show was a children’s programme during which Uncle Eric spoke to thousands of youngsters and his daily fitness routine also remained popular. He was known for his fondness of coffee and, in fact, a record that was brought out was called Percolating with Eric. He also published a book containing a collection of Corny Cracks. Up to shortly before his death he was still responsible for the music programme Top Twenty. In addition he acted in a number of feature films, including three for David Millin. He married three times. One of his sons, Adrian Egan, also became an actor. (FO)

Filmography

Geboortegrond (Pierre de Wet/1946), Hier’s Ons Weer! (Hyman Kirstein/1950), Alles Sal Regkom! (Hyman Kirstein/1951), Donker Afrika (David Millin/1957), Stropers van die Laeveld (David Millin/1962), Ride the High Wind (David Millin/1965).

Trivia

His younger brother, Felix Mendelssohn Ginsberg (1907-1983), renamed himself Felix De Cola and gained fame as an accomplished jazz pianist, composer and piano teacher, first in South Africa and later in the United States. He died in Hollywood.

Sources

South African Dictionary of Biography

Bryant, Margot - As we were: South Africa 1939-1941

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

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0250671/?ref_=nv_sr_1

http://www.jewishgen.org/safrica/newsletter/SA-SIG-NL-2007-03.pdf

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