Gaby Getz

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Gaby Getz born Gabrielle van der Riet, Port Elizabeth, (1940- ) was a Producer, Film Actress and Stage Actress.


In 1946 a six-year-old Port Elizabeth girl Gabrielle van der Riet decided she was going to be an operatic soprano.

For her size and age she had a strong, sweet, voice. Her parents encouraged her to follow her dream and to become a soprano singer.

Then one day, while rehearsing a difficult passage one morning her, her voice broke on the top note.

She was quite ready to forget about the vocal crack but a well-meaning friend tried to encourage her by telling her she could still be a fine contralto.

The young girl’s vision of being a Madame Butterfly or Aida was replaced by visions of the witch in Il Travatore and Carmen.

But Gabrielle was either going to be a soprano or nothing.

Thus it was, in 1967, aged 17, Gabrielle forgot about her singing and turned to straight acting.

In her early 20s, Gaby spent part of her time in England and part near the Kalahari.

Contribution to SA theatre and film

In 1963, aged 23, Gaby returned to Port Elizabeth and swept onto the amateur stage in the Pemads production of The Trial of Mary Dugan, directed by Charles Vernon.

She was a great success and she appeared in several plays – Shakespeare, musicals, comedy and drama – and directed John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger in 1966.

Her directional debut in a major play followed her success in directing prize-winning school productions for her old school, St Dominic’s Priory, and the 1965 Salters’ Cup play festival, which she won an award with The Death of Bessie Smith.

In 1966 Gaby’s intensive thought was obvious when she produced Look Back in Anger on the Port Elizabeth amateur stage.

In 1967, Gaby went to the East London theatre group, the Garrick Players, to play Beatrice in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

Her portrayal was described as “magical in a professional performance beyond criticism”.

Shortly afterwards Port Elizabeth’s “Mr Showbiz” Frank Rogaly, advised her to enroll as a student at Anne Freed’s Theatre School in Durban.

Gabrielle van der Riet took her last look at her backstage dressing room at a Port Elizabeth theatre, closed the door, walked away and moved to Durban.

That was the end of Gabrielle van der Riet, the amateur actress and director and a few months later she was reborn as Gaby Getz, a professional actress, on the Durban and Johannesburg stages.

Among her tutors at Anne Freed’s Theatre School was Catherine King, the academy’s senior voice coach.

The following year Gaby Getz moved to Johannesburg and was well on her way to becoming an established film actress on the South African scene.

She landed minor roles in two musicals for African Consolidated Theatres, Let Yourself Go, with Michael Bentine and Robert and Elizabeth.

Then the famous British comedian Jimmy Edwards came to South Africa with the comedy Big Bad Mouse, and Gaby was cast with him.

But she found film more appealing and eventually she landed a small roles in Mr Kingstreet’s War, with overseas actors John Saxon and Tippi Hedren, and in Taxi the South African film version of the popular radio series by [[Joe Stewardson], with co-stars Tony Jay, George Korelin and Pat Sanders.

Hymie Udwin gave her a role in the Johannesburg run of the wildly successful farce, Move Over, Mrs Markham, with Rex Garner and Shelagh Holliday but she was still only being cast as the “dumb blonde”.

This was her first major senior role.

Because she was so beautiful her dramatic potential was being overlooked in films but she stuck it out until film director Ivan Hall offered her a starring role as the selfish, impetuous, warmhearted sophisticate, Agnes, in Dans van die Flamink. an adaptation of the then-popular radio series along with Sigfried Mynhardt, John Boulter, Rod Alexander, Johan Swanepoel and Sandra Britz.

She also starred in another Cavalier Films production, Boland! in which she appeared with Chris du Toit, Wena Naude, James White, Fred Stevens and Annamey Brink.

In 1971 she returned to the stage and in 1972 appeared in An Evening of Victorian Music Hall and Melodrama at the Chastity Belt.

Gaby Getz has also appeared in other major South African films such as Funeral for an Assassin, produced by Cavalier Films and Ivanwait Productions.

This movie was filmed in and around Johannesburg, with an American film star, Vic Morrow, in the leading role.

With Morrow and Gaby in the cast are the English actor, Peter van Dissel, Siegfried Mynhardt, Stuart Parker and John Boulter.

In 1971 Gaby Getz acted in Mister Kingstreet’s War, Three Bullets for a Long Gun.

Her 1974 films were Funeral for an Assassin, Olie Kolonie and Dans van die Flamink.

In 1976 she took part in Die Rebel and Erfgoed is Sterfgoed.

The director of the film Boland!, Ivan Hall, said of Gaby: “It is very seldom that an actress puts as much serious thought and professionalism into her work as Gaby does. She will go far.”


Weekend Post Parade, magazine, May 11, 1974.

Performed in Let Yourself Go,Robert and Elizabeth, Big Bad Mouse, Jockey Club Stakes, Move Over Mrs. Markham and Adam's Speck-tacular.


SACD 1974; 1975/76.

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