Herbert Flemming

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Herbert Flemming (1855?-1908) was a well-known British-born actor and manager.


Also known as "Bertie Flemming", he started out as an actor in comedy and was said to have become one of the most popular actors on the British stage of his time, and in fact a matinee idol in London in the late 1880s. Was at one time married to the actress

He also toured the colonies, playing and working as a theatre and company manager in Australia and South Africa in the latter years of his life, sometimes in partnership, sometimes with his own Herbert Flemming Company.

He went on to become a company and theatre manager of some renown in South Africa as well as Australia, inter alia working with Robert Brough (1857-1906). For example, the Brough-Flemming Comedy Company brought Beauty and the Barge (W.W. Jacobs and Louis N. Parker) from the Haymarket Theatre, London, to open at the Princess Theatre, Melbourne on 8th July, 1905.

Flemming died unexpectedly in Melbourne on 23 October, 1908, at the age of 53, while working as the manager of the New English Comedy Company and was to have played "Simon Strange" in the new play Simple Simon that evening.

He left a widow and two children.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

As actor

Flemming arrived in South Africa in 1895 to make his debut as an actor in the country with the Luscombe Searelle company. He went on to appear in a number of plays over the years, including The Passport (Stephenson and Yardley), as "Dr Candy" in The New Boy (Lumley), as "Wedderburn" and/or "Dick Phenyl") in Sweet Lavender (Pinero) and "Sir Christopher Deering" in The Liars (Jones).

As manager

According to Boonzaier (1923), he went on to become a company and theatre manager of some renown in South Africa - sometimes in partnership (inter alia working with Frank de Jong (active 1890-1930), Robert Brough (1857-1906), ), at other times with his own company, the Herbert Flemming Company.

In 1898 the Herbert Flemming Company performed The Liars (Jones) at Cape Town's Opera House.

In 1899 Flemming and Frank de Jong formed a partnership and brought the Arthur Rousbey Opera Company to South Africa to perform a season of operas in Cape Town's Opera House and in the same year the Herbert Flemming Company put on The Only Way (Dickens/Wills and Longbridge) there.

In 1900 the Herbert Flemming Company presented a full season in the Opera House, Cape Town, with a repertoire that that included The Silver King (Jones and Herman), A Pantomime Rehearsal (Clay), The Wrong Mr Wright (Broadhurst), A Night Off (Schontau/Daly), Modern Wives (Warren?), Facing the Music (Darnley), Jim, the Penman (Young) and The Idler (Chambers).


Obituary in the Bendigo Advertiser, Saturday 24 October, 1908[1]


D.C. Boonzaier, 1923. "My playgoing days – 30 years in the history of the Cape Town stage", in SA Review, 9 March and 24 August 1932. (Reprinted in Bosman 1980: pp. 374-439.)

F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp. 402-408, 413.

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