Marjorie Gilbey

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Marjorie Gilbey (1917- May 2011) was an actor, speech-trainer, drama mistress.


Marjorie Gilbey was educated at St Michael's, Bloemfontein (founded by Bishop Webb in 1874. It is the oldest girls’ school North of the Orange River), where she knew Elaine English (later Mrs Jimmy Tasker). She later studied dramatic art at the Italia Conti Stage School in London. This was followed by studies at the Royal Academy with Ena Grossmith. During that time she did much stage work and acted in The Lake, in 1937, and in 1938, Edward Knoblauch's My Lady's Dress a three-act play which first opened 23rd April, 1913. Both were staged at the Fortune Theatre. This was followed by a season at the Everyman Theatre, Hampstead.

At the outbreak of war in September 1939, she returned to South Africa and for one year she shared a studio in Cape Town, with her sister, Pamela Gilbey, who had trained as a dancer at the Noreen Bush School in London.

She then joined the Union Defence Force Entertainment Unit, which was named The Boomerangs and remained with them until her demobilisation in May 1946. Her company toured the Union extensively before being posted to Italy. Mervynne Fernie (later Mrs. Haldane "Hal" Venter), owner and teacher at the Fernie Dance Academy, was also a member of the unit. (During the 2nd World War Hal was in the British SAS and was highly decorated for action behind enemy lines in Greece). When that tour ended, they returned to South Africa before being sent on another posting to the Middle East, where, with the help of Denis Freeman, a well-known London producer serving as an Intelligence Officer attached to the Free French, they became a first-class company. Marjorie Gilbey was one of the last 12 women of the entertainment units to return to the Union from the Middle East.

After her demobilisation she returned to London for a one-year refresher course at the Royal Academy of Music.

When that was completed, she moved to Port Elizabeth in June 1947, and became the speech-training and drama mistress at the Junior Collegiate School for Girls in Port Elizabeth.

In 19?? she opened her own dance studio in Newington Road, Port Elizabeth.

She died in Cape Town in May 2011.

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

Marjorie Gilbey produced numerous plays for the Collegiate Schools.


Saturday Post, July 26, 1947.

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