Ian Strauss (b. Germiston, 13/01/1936 – d. **/**/1982) was an actor. Also credited in England as Ian Knightley.
Ian Christopher Strauss was the son of J.G.N. Strauss and his wife Joy Carpenter. His father was first Minister of Agriculture in the cabinet of General Smuts and later leader of the opposition United Party (1950-1956). As a young man Ian sailed as a cadet officer for Safmarine on the S.S. Vergelegen to Baltimore and upon his return he spent two years studying for the theatre with Ruth Oppenheim. Following that he did a course in mining engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand and worked as a surveyor at a mine where comedian Frederick Burgers was his supervisor. Burgers encouraged him to pursue his acting career. In 1960 he played his first small film role in Emil Nofal’s Rip van Wyk and this was followed by Basie (Gordon Vorster/1961) and Stropers van die Laeveld (David Millin/1962). During this time he also played (uncredited) a fictional role in the documentary The Captive River (J. Blake Dalrymple/1960).
When, in 1963, John Fernald, then the Director of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, visited Johannesburg to direct The Cherry Orchard, Strauss auditioned for him and in July of that year he left for London. He graduated from RADA in 1965, the same year as fellow South African Estelle Kohler. For RADA he acted in plays like Othello, Picnic, Rope and Much Ado About Nothing, while he travelled to Malta with the Hampstead Players to act in Priestley’s Dangerous Corner. In England he had adopted the name of Ian Knightley and as Knightley he acted in television in series like Softly Softly, Adam Adament Lives! and Vendetta. He also had a role as a German pilot in John Guillermin’s feature film The Blue Max (1966) and is said to have acted in Deadlier Than the Male (Ralph Thomas/1967), though he is not credited. Another South African in that film was actress Didi Sydow.
He returned to South Africa in July 1968, but his acting career didn’t really take off. He had roles in the films Katrina (Jans Rautenbach), Stadig oor die Klippe (Richard Daneel) and Petticoat Safari (David Millin), all in 1969 and in 1975 he was one of the pilots in Franz Marx’s Seuns van die Wolke / Fighter Pilots. Earlier, in 1973, he had directed a film himself, but there are few references of any kind to Die Sonvreter. He also returned to the stage, acting in The Left Hand of Janus (1970) at the Library Theatre and in 1974 in The Glass Menagerie at the University of the Witwatersrand, which he also directed. At the time of his 1962 divorce from Nicolette Schey his profession was given as bank clerk and in 1976 he also did some freelance work as a film critic for the Rand Daily Mail.
Rand Daily Mail, 13 April 1967
Rand Daily Mail, 24 July 1968
Le Roux, André I. & Fourie, Lilla – Filmverlede: geskiedenis van die Suid-Afrikaanse speelfilm (1982)
Return to ESAT Personalities S
Return to South African Theatre Personalities
Return to The ESAT Entries
Return to Main Page