Percy Sieff

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Percy Sieff (1928-2009) was an actor on radio, TV, stage and film in English and Afrikaans and a stage director.


He was born on 22 June 1928, grew up in Melkbosstrand and made his home at Clifton. He was married to Sylvia Perl and they had two children.

During the 1990s he and his wife settled in Australia where he received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Shylock in The Merchant of Venice at the Sydney Opera house in 1999. He however still payed regular visits to South Africa.

He died on 1 March, 2009, in the Cape Town Mediclinic, during a visit to his home town and is buried in the Pinelands Jewish Cemetary, Cape Town. (IMDb[1] wrongly gives his death as June 19, 2009 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia).

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


Percy was well-known as a Springbok Radio personality, known for example for the popular Springbok Radio series "Call Back The Past", which he hosted. The series started on Springbok Radio in 1968 and continued until 1982, for a total of 708 episodes. Every Tuesday evening, Percy Sieff would take the listeners on a historical tour of the 19th & 20th Centuries' using rare historical recordings,both in voices and music. (Source: The Springbok Radio Documentary Collection[2])

Stage work

Worked for CAPAB. Also worked for The Space in the 1970s.

Performed the original Bosman one-man show Willem Prinsloo's Peach Brandy: An Evening of H.C. Bosman countrywide since early 1969, acted in Long Day's Journey into Night, Luv, Occupations, Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act, A Thousand Clowns and Alpha Beta.

He also devised and presented some of his own productions at The Space, including Jewish Humour, Sincerely Yours, Mark Twain, Nostalgic 20s, Nostalgic 30s, Look at the 60s, Son of Jewish Humour.

Sincerely Yours, Mark Twain became a long-term vehicle for Sieff, who took this one-man show on Mark Twain across the globe, right into the late 1990s.

Played in The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1959), Cyrano de Bergerac (1969), Moeder Hanna (CAPAB 1970), Paul Harmse in Christine for CAPAB 1987, Faust, The Madwoman of Chaillot, The Proposal, Broken Glass, Venus Observed, Captain Carvallo and many other productions.

Film and TV

As a film actor he was known for Dirty Games (1989), Code 7, Victim 5 (1964) and Kalahari Harry (1994).


Won a Three-leaf award for Polo in A Hatful of Rain, 1966.

Fleur du Cap nomination for his role in Broken Glass, 1995.


SACD 1973; 1974.

Cape Argus 19 May 1999.

Fiona Chisholm. 2009. Theatre personality Percy Sieff bows out after a long and distinguished career. Cape Times 5 March 2009.

The Springbok Radio Documentary Collection[3])

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