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DEATH OF CLIVE PARNELL (article first published : 2003-06-16)

Well-known actor Clive Parnell died a day after his 63rd birthday on April 7.

A multi-talented man, he was also a raconteur par excellence, loved discussing current affairs and had a passion for watching cricket. Always fashion-conscious, he was nicknamed “Cuffs” as a young man by his mate Gordon Mulholland because of his natty turnout.

His acting career began at Durban’s Lyric Theatre in the early 1960s when he swopped selling shoes for the footlights. His resonant voice and natural talent were destined for bigger things and overnight the unknown became the leading man in Johannesburg in Come Blow Your Horn.

For this role he won the Comedy Performance of the Year award. It was the first of many. He was nominated six times for Best Actor, an award he walked away with for his performance in The Private Ear and The Public Eye. Another highlight was starring opposite Jim Reeves in Kimberley Jim.

On radio he found yet another audience. In the classic advertisement which asked, “Where did you have your first Campari?” it was he who memorably replied “Benoni”. On Springbok Radio he found fame as ace sleuth Johnny Fatal.

Clive moved to the Cape in the early ‘70s and became host of the Fireman's Arms, arguably the mother city's oldest pub. However, his love of acting never diminished and the opportunity to be on stage again at a new Cape Town dining theatre in 1977 proved irresistible. The Typists and The Problem were the beginning of a new chapter. He returned to Johannesburg and to new challenges.

A superb cook, he wrote a witty food column in the now defunct Sunday Express. In many other areas, he led the way. He foresaw the need for casting directors in television’s earliest days with Ad-Cast. He dabbled in advertising and found success with a horseracing programme called See How They Run.




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