Taubie Kushlick (1910–1991) was a South African actress and producer. She became characterized as the self-styled "First Lady of Theatre".[1]

Personal life and education

Kushlick was the daughter of Jewish Lithuanian immigrants from Kovno. She was born in the Orange Free State and educated at Weseleyan High School, Grahamstown. She studied for two years at the Royal Academy of Music in London, earning two gold medals. She married (doctor) Philip Kushlick. They had a son. Kushlick lived in Johannesburg for most of her life. In an interview with the Sunday Times columnist, Jani Allan she described herself as "a BIG personality..A Rolls-Royce! A man-eating Rolls-Royce!"[2]


Kushlick's career as an actress and theatre producer spanned over six decades.[3] She received acclaim for her notable role in South African theatre.[4] Her hand-on approach also became a particular characteristic of her career, she once admitted "My type is dying out of the theatre. I'm a conductor who has to ORCHESTRATE the whole thing."[2]

Her career highlights included producing for Reps (Alexander Theatre), the National Theatre (PACT), the Children's Theatre, universities and CAPAB. She was frequently nominated for South Africa's Woman of the Year prize for her theatre productions.[5]

She enjoyed particular success with productions such as Fiddler on the roof, Lion in Winter, Bravo Piaf[citation needed], The Student Prince and A Little Night Music, directing and starring alongside Eric Flynn.[1][5]

She was a fervent admirer of Jacques Brel and produced several musicals featuring his songs. By 1982, the longest run of any stage production in Johannesburg was Kushlick's Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.[6]

Earlier in 1973 she held a special Jacques Brel performance to raise funds for Israel during the Yom Kippur War.[5]

She was an honorary life member of the South African Association of Theatre Managements and patron of the Theatre Gallery Club. She also became the founder and director Taubie Kushlick Productions (Pty) Ltd.[5]

Awards bestowed upon her included the André Huguenet Memorial Medal for pioneering work in theatre, the B'nai B'rith Cultural Trophy, the Italian Cultural Medal and the Adelaide Ristori. She was also nominated as Woman of the Year on several occasions.[5]

In 1999, she was placed at no.88 in the They shaped our century survey, a top 100 list published about which people had the greatest influence on South Africa during the twentieth century.

In her 2002 autobiography, British actress Amanda Barrie said she worked with Kushlick in a 1969 South African production of Cabaret. This was at the height of apartheid and Barrie said she "has never hated anyone so much in my life".


  1. ^ a b Eric Flynn The Independent. 14 March 2002
  2. ^ a b TAUBIE KUSHLICK: 'It's Queen Kong.' (Gasp-gasp faint-faint) janiallan.com. Retrieved on 21 June 2014
  3. ^ Clarke, James (1987). Like it was: The Star, 100 years in Johannesburg. Argus Print. & Pub. Co. 
  4. ^ SOUTH AFRICAN LITERATURE Jewish Virtual Library
  5. ^ a b c d e Blow, Desmond (1974). "Take now thy son": the Yom Kippur War : South Africa's involvement. H. Timmins.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "w21" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  6. ^ Rosenthal, Eric (1982). Total Book of South African Records. Delta Books.