W.F. Woodman

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W.F. Woodman (b. Frome, Somerset, **/**/1882 - d. South Africa, 06/08/1973) was a theatre manager and occasional actor.


William (Willie) Foster Woodman, known as Woody, was the oldest child of William Woodman, a corn merchant (and brewer) of Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, and his wife, Ellen Holloway. According to that year’s census, in 1901 he was a corn merchant’s clerk, probably in his father’s business. In 1904 the London Gaiety Company came out to South Africa and in 1907 he became their business manager. The year before he had married Lavinia Agnes Biggs in London and the couple must have come to South Africa soon afterwards. By 1909 he had become the manager of His Majesty’s Theatre and then the Carlton Theatre for the Wheeler-Edwardes Company but in 1912 he brought a case against his wife and Frank Wheeler and parted company with his employer.

In 1916 he managed Ethel Irving’s tour through South Africa and afterwards came back to the Carlton Theatre, which by then was in other hands. In 1917 he returned to His Majesty’s Theatre and in 1920 he played his only known role in a motion picture as Madge Fabian’s husband in Fallen Leaves, directed by Dick Cruikshanks. In this film he loses her to her lover, played by Yvon Saxby. Following that he had a spell as front-of-house manager at the Cape Town Opera House, but eventually became dramatic manager of African Consolidated Theatres and in 1932 the manager of the Capitol Theatre in Pretoria. In 1916 he had married Doris Waite, who predeceased him and when he died in 1973, he was survived by his third wife, Mona Gladys Woodman, who died the following year. (FO)


Gutsche, Thelma - The history and social significance of motion pictures in South Africa 1895-1940

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