Frank Secker

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Frank Secker (b. Kingston, Surrey 19/10/1906 - d. Orange Grove, Johannesburg 05/09/1962) was an actor, screenwriter and narrator.


British-born Francis Bernard Secker was an actor and screenwriter, but many older South Africans will always remember him as the voice of African Mirror. He also narrated its Rhodesian equivalents, Federation News and Rhodesian Spotlight, and was the English-language narrator of numerous documentaries from African Film Productions, including Joseph Albrecht’s After Sixty Years (1946), made for the Johannesburg City Council (the Afrikaans-language versions of such films often featured the voices of either Jan Schutte or Gert van den Bergh).

He was born in England as the youngest child of Francis (Frank) Secker and his wife, Florence Groner, who settled in South Africa with him and his two sisters. His father became secretary of the Durban Turf Club, but died at the early age of 47. Francis (by then also Frank) studied at the Royal Academy of Art in London and in August 1934 travelled to the United States – no profession given. IMDb lists The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden (a one-act play by Thornton Wilder) and Turn Around, two 1937 BBC television shorts both made by Eric Crozier in which he featured, and in the same year he also had a role in the play Wanted for Murder, staged at London's Lyceum Theatre. Back in South Africa he had roles in The Twelve Thousand (staged at the Library Theatre in 1938) and in George and Margaret and The Dominant Sex, both produced in 1939 by Natala Korel at the Standard Theatre. In 1946 he appeared in The Philadelphia Story, produced by Margaret Inglis, and in The Little Foxes, produced by Taubie Kushlick.

African Mirror's first sound version was launched on 15 July 1939, with Frank Secker reporting on the Durban July Handicap. After a few months of experimentation, he settled in as its official commentator. He modelled himself on the likes of British Movietone's Leslie Mitchell and Geoffrey Sumner and became part of the South African movie going experience. While he occasionally wrote the scripts for the documentaries he narrated, he was usually only credited as the commentator. The directors he worked for included Emil Nofal, Donald Swanson, Kurt Baum, Jan Perold, David Millin, Raymond Hancock and Dick Reucassel. Radio plays in which he appeared included The Ascent of F6 (Produced by Bruce Anderson/1939) and the serial Les Misérables (1939), in which he took the role of Javert. He was married to Sybil Marian Wingrove (born Westmacott). (FO)


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