Berdine Grünewald

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Berdine Grünewald (b. 15/08/1914 – d. 07/08/1994) was an actress and illustrator.


Born Berdine Groenewald, Berdine Grünewald was considered by many to have been one of the most attractive women to have appeared on the South African stage. A classically trained actress, she started her theatrical career at the age of 21 when, in 1935, she took over the role of Esther, originally played by Elsa Fouché, in Oom Paul, presented by Hendrik and Mathilde Hanekom’s touring company. She stayed with the Hanekoms for three years and then joined André Huguenet for Die Kwaksalwer in 1939 and several other productions. She also made a number of appearances for the Volksteater and the National Theatre Organisation. She and Huguenet remained close and she played Ophelia opposite him in his Afrikaans-language version of Hamlet in 1947 and as Lady Macduff in Macbeth in 1950. In 1951 she visited Australia with the British Commonwealth Theatre Company and in 1955 worked with Ruth Oppenheim at Johannesburg’s Windmill Theatre. Her last stage performance in South Africa was in Die Dame met die Kamelias in 1966.

In 1960 she married the American playwright, screenwriter and popular/controversial science writer Robert Ardrey and as Berdine Ardrey illustrated three of his books on the science of human origins: African Genesis (1961), The Territorial Imperative (1966) and The Social Contract (1970). They initially settled in Rome’s Trastevere neighbourhood and 1977 came back to South Africa to live in Kalk Bay. Robert died there in 1980 and Berdine in 1994.

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