Terry Lester

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Terry Lester (1940-1995). British-born comedian, singer, actor.


He was born in Dorset, England. He first came to work in South Africa in October 1970, which resulted in him being blacklisted by Equity. He died in Johannesburg in June 1995 after a struggle against cancer of the bone marrow.


Terry appeared in three major films before he was six and then attended the Italia Conti School of Music and Dance. Soon he was in the chorus at the famous London Palladium and a year later was head boy and dance captain, appearing with Judy Garland, Jack Benny and Marlene Dietrich. Then came legitimate theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company where he performed with Olivier, Gielgud, Dame Edith Evans and Peggy Ashcroft. After a ten year commission in the Rpyal Marine Commandos Terry returned to the world of show business, cabaret, revues and burlesque.

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

He was well-known in South Africa for his role as the mad barber in Sweeney Todd. He was also cast with the coveted role of Doolittle in My Fair Lady, “Pharaoh” in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and “Max Detwieler” in The Sound of Music.

He starred in Robert Kirby’s The Dot-Dash Show together with Robert at the Little Theatre in 1975. He starred in the Brickhill-Burke and PACT revival of The Sound of Music at His Majesty's Theatre in June 1976. He starred in Robert Kirby’s Separate Development, directed by and co-starring Kirby at the Laager in 1980. Together with Robert Kirby he presented Academy Rewards at the Academy Theatre in 1981. He starred in the Johannesburg Civic Theatre Association and Brickhill-Burke Productions co-production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum together with Wilson Dunster in June 1983.

Heliotrope Bouquet, 1994, Brave New Pretoria.

He received rave reviews for Who's Sleeping in My Bed?.

Terry has spent nine months on board the luxury liner Astor as Entertainments Manager and could be seen on TV in the series Westgate III.

Awards, etc


Obituary, The Citizen, 22 June 1995.

Programme of Pieter Toerien's Isn't It Romantic in 1985.

Tucker, 1997.

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