Marijke Haakman

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Marijke Haakman (b. Semarang, Indonesia, 19/12/1937) was an actress. Also credited as Marika Mann and Marijke Mann.


Marijke Haakman was born Marijke Margaretha Staal on the Indonesian island of Java in what was then the Netherlands East Indies. Her mother was Nancy Ballangée, who was either widowed or divorced when she married Jacob Evert (Jaap) Haakman, a former Dutch fighter pilot, in 1947. That same year the couple and their two daughters came to South Africa, where Marijke’s stepfather became the local General Manager of the travel bureau Lissone-Lindeman.

She attended Redhill School in Johannesburg and in 1955 she made what may have been her first stage appearance. Entitled Circus Adventure, it was written by James Ambrose Brown for the Children’s Theatre. Initially she was sent to the Netherlands and France to study art, but she switched her interests to the theatre and in 1959 she graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. Her first play as a professional actor in South Africa was Jean Giraudoux’s Tiger at the Gates, staged by Ricky Arden for the University Players in which she played Helen of Troy. This was followed by productions for Kushlick-Gluckman, the Johannesburg Repertory Society and the National Theatre.

In 1962 she returned to England and after a year in repertory she was spotted by Sir Laurence Olivier, for whom she played small roles in Saint Joan and The Workhouse Donkey at the Chichester Festival Theatre. Rather against her will, her agent had persuaded her to change her professional name to Marika Mann and in 1966-67 she spent some time first at the Sheffield Playhouse and after that at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. At the latter she was in the cast of the British premiere of Arthur Miller’s After the Fall (1967), together with no fewer than six other South Africans. In 1966 she had married Lancashire-born actor/producer John McKelvey (1916-1998), whom she had met when he had acted with her in The Complaisant Lover (1960) for Taubie Kushlick.

In January 1968 she was back in South Africa to take the role of Eleanor of Aquitaine opposite Joe Stewardson in The Lion in Winter for PACT, and again in 1971-72 when she was in Hedda Gabler and Macbeth for CAPAB. Back in England she and John McKelvey had a long run in Dear Liar, a play they also took on tour in Scandinavia and eventually to Israel. In South Africa she had acted in two films, namely Tremor (1961) directed by Denis Scully, and the anti-apartheid Dilemma (1962), based on the Nadine Gordimer novel A World of Strangers. She later said that the Danish director, Henning Carlsen, had duped her into taking the part. Certainly the authorities took a great interest in the circumstances under which it had been made.

In 1978 she and her husband emigrated to New Zealand and later settled in Australia, where they continued to act until a series of strokes brought his career to an end. First in England and later in Australia, she acted in numerous television plays and series, as well as in Bruce Beresford’s film Paradise Road (1997), about a group of women imprisoned by the Japanese on the Indonesian island of Sumatra during World War II. The last IMDb entry for her dates from 2010, when she appeared in an episode of the Australian series City Homicide.


1968 – Best English Actress of the Year (Johannesburg Gallery Club) for The Lion in Winter. Accepted on her behalf by Mrs. Nancy Haakman.

South African Theatrical Credits

1955 – Circus Adventure (Children’s Theatre), 1960 – Tiger at the Gates (University Players), 1960 – The Complaisant Lover (Kushlick-Gluckman), 1960 – The Gay Invalid (Johannesburg Reps), 1961 – Die Bruidskool (National Theatre), 1961 – The Judge (National Theatre), 1962 – Burning Bright (Johannesburg Reps), 1962 – Nothing Sacred (Adam Leslie), 1968 – The Lion in Winter (PACT), 1962 – You Never Can Tell (PACT), 1970 – A Boston Story (PACT), 1971 - Dear Antoine, or The Love That Failed (CAPAB), 1971 – Strindberg Without Tears (CAPAB), 1972 – Hedda Gabler (CAPAB), 1972 – Macbeth (CAPAB).


Rand Daily Mail (various issues)

Sunday Times (various issues)

The Stage, 11 June 1998

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