"Patrick Mynhardt nominated and listed as a National Treasure."
- Gwen Gill, Sunday Times, January 2004
Happy birthday, Patrick

Actor, entertainer, raconteur and self-confessed kakprater… Patrick Mynhardt would have been 76 years old today, and continues to be sorely missed by the countless people whose lives he touched.

Patrick passed away in London on 25 October 2007, and his sudden death sent shockwaves through the South African and international arts community. Closer to home, it utterly devastated his family, who could have been forgiven for expecting that the old man still had several more years left in him.

After all, he was hardly your average septuagenarian – certainly not one to bow out gracefully and sit out his autumn years under a crocheted blanket with a steaming mug of chicken soup at his side. He thoroughly abhorred the thought of not working.

In fact, at the time of his death, Patrick was performing his one-man autobiographical show Boy From Bethulie on the West End. He had literally never stopped working until his dying day – just as he wished.

But it still came as a shock to those of us who had come to know and love him – be it as a performer or a person, or a person whose every uttering was an entertaining performance. A true icon had fallen, and somehow life would never again be quite as sweet as it was when this hard-working, dedicated, larger-than-life personality had been around.

It strikes me that actors of Patrick’s ilk are literally a dying breed. Back in the day, you earned your acting stripes going on the road with touring repertory companies, sweating blood to master the intricacies of the classics. It was hard slog, and certainly not glamorous. But performers were passionate about the arts and, even more importantly, about perfection, and that was what invigorated them.

These days, every second-rate soapie star considers him- or herself an ‘actor’. Being a celebrity today requires little more than a pretty face and preferably a penchant for getting into trouble. There’s no such thing as interning at the school of hard knocks, and there’s certainly no high bar to measure yourself against. Mediocrity, sadly, is rewarded.

Make no mistake, there are still plenty of good, seasoned actors in South Africa, but most of them have to eke out a living relying on the small pockets of devoted but ageing theatre fans dotted around the country. A gritty local TV series like Vyfster, in which Patrick starred as Pappa and which had us glued to our screens, seems a long, long way off in the past.

Patrick will always be remembered for being not only a great actor, but a successful one as well. Hard-working and forward-thinking, he proved that an actor needn’t be penniless and, as such, was an inspiration to others who were considering entering what is often viewed as a spiritually rewarding but financially crippling profession.

He told me last year that he once wanted to become the world’s best actor, but had settled for becoming a household name in Boksburg – “like Vicks Vaporub!” Jokes aside, it was amazing to witness the outpouring of emotion and appreciation following his death, from all walks of life – from Boksburg to Bethulie and around the world. Patrick Mynhardt was truly loved.

His legacy lives on, and his star continues to shine brightly in the acting pantheon. Mind you, it wouldn’t surprise me if our beloved motormouth is perched on a cloud at this very moment, talking the hind leg off an angel…

Christina Kennedy, 12 June 2008

Patrick Mynhardt was a stage, film, television and radio personality for more than 50 years in South Africa and abroad. Read more about his colourful life and career as an actor over here. To view or order books, videos, DVDs or tapes of his popular Bosman and autobiographical works, click here. Don't leave without browsing Patrick's incredible gallery of roles - a mere handful of the many characters that Patrick has portrayed throughout his diverse acting career.