Frank Fillis Jr

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Frank Fillis Jr (1880–1961) was a circus performer and thereafter a theatre manager.


Born Francis Alfred Fillis in Dundee, Scotland, some time in 1880, the son of showman Frank Fillis (Francis Edward Fillis) and Elizabeth Jane Carr, where both his parents were performers with the John Henry Cooke Circus. He was the half-brother of Adele Fillis and Cecil Fillis.

Frank married Violet Dorothy Taylor, the daughter of Herbert “Captain Joe” Taylor, a famous elephant trainer, in 1928.

He died in Johannesburg on 23 March, 1961.

Career in theatre, film, media and performance

Professionally he first became equestrian director and ringmaster in his stepmother’s circus. In 1912 he was involved in the production of a film entitled I.D.B., in which both he, Adele Fillis and her fiancée Harry Vine had roles. After Madame Fillis (Vincente Fillis) disbanded her circus in 1913, Frank Jr. joined African Consolidated Theatres and became manager of the Orpheum Theatre. In 1916 he played an army officer in Harold M. Shaw’s film The Symbol of Sacrifice and in 1918 he was the captain of King Solomon’s guard in H. Lisle Lucoque’s version of King Solomon’s Mines.

For some time he managed the King’s Hotel in Johannesburg, but subsequently returned to ACT as a theatre manager. The cinemas with which he was associated included the Astoria in East London and the Parysia and the Odeon, both in Rosebank, Johannesburg.



Rand Daily Mail, 24 March 1961

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

Floris van der Merwe. 2007. Frank Fillis: The Story of a Circus Legend. Stellenbosch" FJG Publications

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