Herbert Kretzmer

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Herbert Kretzmer (1925-2020) Actor, lyricist and theatre critic.


He was born in Kroonstad in the Orange Free State, South Africa, on 5 October 1925, the son of William and Tilly Kretzmer, who ran a furniture store. He matriculated at Kroonstad High School and then went to Rhodes University.

He began his professional career writing documentary films and the commentary for a weekly cinema newsreel, but then moved on to print journalism, initially as a reporter and feature writer for the Johannesburg Sunday Express. Inter alia he was the Drama critic (writing under the name of Herbert Kentish). He also wrote occasional lyrics for musicals.

In 1954 he moved to London to pursue his twin careers as journalist and lyric writer, working for various publications. There he also went on to reach significant fame as a lyricist, most notably as author of the English libretto for the musical Les Misérables for Cameron Mackintosh in 1985.

He passed away on 14 October 2020.

Twice married, he had one son.

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

While living in Johannesburg, he was a member of the Johannesburg REPS, appearing in plays such as Romeo and Juliet (Pretoria Opera House and the Wits Great Hall, 1949). He also composed five songs for the revue Xmas Box, staged by Leon Gluckman in 1949.




Percy Tucker. 1997. Just The Ticket! My 50 Years in South African Show Business. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press.

Programme of Les Misérables, as performed in Cape Town in 1996.

Go to the ESAT Bibliography

Return to

Return to ESAT Personalities K

Return to South African Theatre Personalities

Return to The ESAT Entries

Return to Main Page