I was born on 8 June 1960 in Johannesburg, a Gemini.
My father Frankie Alfred Opperman is the first Frank in the family, making me Frank(ii). My mother, Henriette Opperman, was a schoolteacher which meant we moved around quite a bit, resulting in me attending 11 different schools from Worcester, Hermanus, Benoni, Middelburg and finally back to Pretoria where I matriculated from Silverton High School in 1978. As a teacher my mother encouraged me to participate in sport and eisteddfods, although I lost mainly lost interest, I remained a keen tennis player until finishing school.
I started my first band in 1976 with Henning Pieterse and a guy called Spaghetti, we appeared on a television show with our teenage angst song called ‘Generation Gap’. Never a keen scholar I finished school with average marks. Following the status quo, I started studying law at the University of Pretoria in 1979, I believe it was the 3% mark I got for a Latin exam that made me realize I will never be a judge, I dropped out of university and took on the only other job, other than what I’m doing now, Instrument fitter at Sasol2 in Secunda.
January 1980, I joined the army’s engineer’s corps and spent the first year playing in the military marching band, attended 18 funerals playing the euphonium, the names and ranks of the Angolan war victims still elude me. My second year in the army, I played in a dance band called ‘Shrike’ (the detonator of a landmine) in charge was Sgt-Major Spiller who promptly suggested we play ‘Coward of the Country’ in the key of M.
After the army I met a girl, she was a drama student, it was then and there that I decided being an actor seems like an interesting job and thus enrolled at the Pretoria Technicon to complete a three-year national diploma in drama. Being young and having life figured out while studying I made the incredibly wise and grown-up decision of getting married. Although the studies were going well, my marital bliss ended after a year and a half.
On completion of my studies, I was awarded the Pretorian Trust award for best student which landed me a job with PACT, the now defunct arts council, for the next two years. Highlight productions during this time was “Spring awakening” and ‘Caspar in my tuin’.
My favourite highlight was falling asleep in a piano during a performance of ‘The life and times of Mollier’ and ruining an entire show. After being called up for a three-month army camp, I resigned from PACT and started a freelance career.
I then spent one whole year writing a Television Series ‘Honnibal se Toere’ with Greg Latter and acted in my first feature film, with the now world-famous Arnold Vosloo, ‘Boetie gaan Border toe’. My name was forever changed from Frank to ‘Ouboet’ when I started playing in the extremely popular Afrikaans sitcom called ‘Orkney Snork Nie’ which ran for 56 episodes.
In 1988 I got married to my second wife, Susan Coetzer, 12 months later my life changed. Frankie (iii) was born on 5 June 1989. Life is great.
For the next few years, I was part of numerous feature films and guest appearances, tv-shows, etc. some of the highlights were:
– Acted in a movie called ‘The Stick’, directed by now Oscar nominated Darryl Roodt.
– ‘The Big Time’ TV-series where I played Chris Karedes, a Cypriot immigrant.
o I co-wrote episodes of the series.
o The Big Time garnered all the now defunct Artes awards two years in a row.
– Co-wrote two feature films with Nicky Rebello.
o ‘Tough Luck’ featuring myself and late Tolla van der Merwe
o ‘No Hero’ starring Steve Hofmeyr
My marriage with Susan ended in 1992, a year later I moved to Los Angeles in the states where I was granted a green card: Alien of extraordinary ability (only in USA).
My first year in LA I kept myself busy by doing several menial jobs, of all these jobs the one I remember best was being the first person to be legally administered a dose of MDMA (ecstasy) on American soil. I was administered a dose of MDMA as part of a scientific experiment at the Harbour Medical Institute in Los Angeles, the BBC filmed the entire shebang and I earned $700.
I also managed to secure a spot to attend the Oscar’s thanks to a friend, Bernard Joffa, I must have been the only smoker attending the Oscars and definitely the only one to have not seen ‘Schindler’s List’.
After finally acquiring the green light to work in the US I found an agent and started doing auditions, made a guest appearance on the sitcom Coach, I made an appearance as a policeman in a movie alongside a very inebriated Jan Michael Vincent, which made me reminisce about his appearance on the Sunday Times front page where he was spotted in a place of ill repute, clad in only his undies with three sticks of DP stuck in the rubber of his Jockeys. This made me home sick, so I decided to come home. America was a very humbling and wonderful experience.
Back home I was so impressed with the Jazzclub called ‘The Bassline’ in Melville, Johannesburg that I bought an old post office in Pretoria with the idea to convert it into a Jazz club. I quickly ran out of money, got involved with some Greek partners and as they say ‘the rest is ghistory…’ there is to this day no Jazzclub in Pretoria. I then became a partner & co-owner in the Bassline, lots of whiskey, lots of music and a lot of late nights for 4 years.
Two Afrikaans TV series followed: “4de Kabinet” and “Iemand om lief te hê” with the old TV stalwart Jan Scholtz. My character “Yster Swart” coined the phrase…. ‘Mense wat dink hulle is donners smart, is nie altyd so donners smart nie’.
I beat up Jackie Chan in “Who am I?” where I played a South African cop, kicked the living daylights out of him. I must admit, my then ten-year-old son was not that impressed, as he pointed out ‘Jackie Chan’s hands were tied behind his back.
I then was able to regain my sons’ admiration with an appearance on the TV show Gladiators where, I made it up the ‘travelator’ beating ex Bafana Bafana goalkeeper, Marcs Maponyane. I got eliminated by a guy called ‘The Giant’ who knocked me off the fight pads with one blow. 1996 was a rough and physical year.
No rockstar’s biography is complete without an addiction story, however I was fortunate enough that my addiction, caused by the overdose we had at the baseline, was MUSIC. I got together with a friend Michael Maxwell, composed 12 songs and released a rock album called ‘Serial Boyfriend’ – something I was once called by a now ex-girlfriend. We managed to put a hot band together, featuring Barry van Zyl, Concorde Nkabinde and Anton L’Amour. We performed at OppiKoppie and did a 10gig tour through Cape Town. Ended that year in a stranger’s hammock in Koffie Bay.
Entered the new millennium on a hammock, it was time for something new. After an absence of about 12 years I started doing theatre again:
– TALK RADIO – Directed by Craig Freimont we did a month run at the Civic Theatre in Johannesburg
– ROOIKOPPETJIE – Directed by Marthinus Basson, I played the big bad wolf in this Pantomime show
After my return to the stage, I was part of another sitcom series which ran for 52 episodes called Gauteng-Aleng, written and directed by the brilliant Willie Esterhuizen (creator of Orkney Snorknie).
I got into the the live theatre thing and started performing one man shows. Harry Kalmer wrote two of them for me “25 Vrouens” and “Meneer de Beer.” both were turned into short films for TV and broadcast on Mnet. In between I did a few radio ads and voice overs and a ‘Mine safety’ corporate show with Desmond Dube, which we performed 40 time. “An injury to one, is an injury 2 many.”
In 2005/6 I met the journalist Dana Snyman, we started working as a team, he writes the plays and I perform them:
– Die Uwe Pottie Potgieter – did 168 perfomances across the country.
– Wyk 14 – a sequel to Pottie Potgieter, in which the same character “Pottie”, a jobless Afrikaner decides to run in the municipal elections. Did 98 performances.
– Managed to have it turned into a 13-part sitcom for SABC2 and involved, Elize Cawood, Ben Kruger, Kaz McFadden and Cherie van der Merwe as the other characters in the story. Directed by Andre Odendaal.
Life changed again on 16 November 2006, my daughter Ena was born, the apple of her father’s eye, a beautiful baby girl.
In 2010 Dana and I were at it again with another one-man play called Rooikaart. My character Wally Koekemoer, president of the ‘Suidelikes Rugby Club’ is a pisscat trying to ward off the onslaught on his presidency. The character gets drunker as the show progresses, mimicking to drink brandy and coke on stage I got “drunk” on rooibos tea and coke zero for a total of 160 performances.
2012 will be remembered as the year of the kid. A one-man kids show written by Jaco Jacobs, called Kaptein Blitz, the story of an ex-Superhero, turned teacher who got his ass kicked by a disgruntled sidekick. Kept me fit and wondering what the hell I was doing in a red spandex outfit, and matching cape. My daughter was impressed with her superhero dad.
In 2013 I did another Sitcom with Willie Esterhuizen called Munisipaliteit van Gwarra Gwarra, which ran for 26 episodes. Klaagliedere van Ds Tienie Benade, another Dana Snyman play about a church leader losing faith in himself and his church. I performed Ds Tienie 260 times and won a Fiesta Award for performance in a solo show.
Vlug na Egipte TV series (2014), written by Paul C Venter & directed by Human Stark. Filmed in the Karoo, this was one of my career highlights. In 2014 I also did another season of Munisipaliteit van Gwarra Gwarra.
2015 brought the sequel to ‘Vlug van Egipte’ called ‘Terug na Egipte’ for which we were awarded a ‘ATKV veertjie award’.
Dana and I started with another one man show called ‘Hond’ in 2016, about a journalist who is dealing with a dying dog and a divorce. Directed by Gerrit Schoonhoven. New 13-episode comedy series for Kyknet called ‘Phil 101’ where I played the part of a disgruntled professor.
AGE IS CREEPING IN……………………………………….
2017 combined my love of acting and my love of music with a reality show on Kyknet called ‘Die Ooms se Band’ a series in which myself and actor Pierre van Pletzen put together a rock and roll band and ended up doing a big gig at a music festival. Another Willie Esterhuizen sitcom, 26 episodes called ‘Ouboet & Wors’ a spinoff from ‘Orkney Snorknie).
Back on stage for the first time in a big cast production of “Sing jy van bomme”, directed by Gerrit Schoonhoven. Ended off the year making a feature film of the “Klaagliedere” play, directed by Sallas De Jager. Played the bad guy “Frank” in a movie “n Ander Mens”, great fun killing a lot of people, and working with the director Quinten Krogh.
2018 My year of action…
Became a grandfather, to the most beautiful grandson, Frankie(iv).
Far more frightening than anything in my life was joining the cast of ‘Dancing with the stars’. My dancing partner, Jeanne Swart trained me and, for 101 days, I danced my arse off, lost 7kgs. Lasting much longer than I expected I was voted out in round 10.
7kg lighter, fit as hell and with my feet killing me, we started work on another season of ‘Ooms se band’. This time with another lead guitarist, ended up doing a twelve-gig tour through the country filming as we went along. We had great fun and many hangovers; I must add that hangovers were not as easy this time round compared to the earlier years with the Bassline.
Another 26 episodes of Ouboet and Wors.
Joined a cast of actors from Cape Town for some serious theatre “Toutjies en Ferreira” acting opposite Joanie Combrink. Received a Fiesta Award nomination for actor in a leading role.
My daughter Ena is now 12 years old. Been living in Melville Jhb for the last 30 years. My partner is Esmarie Meyer, we have been together since 2004. My son Frankie is now 31 and works in the TV business.
Life is good…