Bill Flynn 'was SA's most loved actor'

The acting fraternity was “utterly devastated” by the death of Bill Flynn on Wednesday, said producer Bobby Heaney. “Bill was the most loved actor in the whole country.”

Flynn (58) is believed to have suffered a heart attack.

Wednesday night’s performance at Johannesburg’s Civic Theatre of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, in which Flynn had been scheduled to act, was cancelled.

Heaney said he found 40 messages and “missed calls” from friends and colleagues when he switched his cellphone on after doing a shoot on Wednesday afternoon.

“People are utterly devastated. It’s a terrible tragedy that such a fine actor and human being should die at such a young age.”

Flynn’s collaborator, the actor and writer Paul Slabolepszy, could not be reached for comment.
Heaney said Slabolepszy was devastated by the news.

A stage and screen actor, Flynn was known for his roles in films including Heel against the Head and Running Riot. His highly successful career included leading roles in more than 140 stage plays, musicals, 42 films, dozens of television shows and thousands of radio and TV commercials, according to his website.

Flynn and Heaney brought Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman to South African audiences in 2001, with Flynn playing the role of Willie Loman.

He had won 13 best-actor awards, including the Dublin Critics and Golden Entertainer awards. His film writing also won him a best screenplay award for Saturday Night at the Palace.

On television, he appeared on the breakfast-TV production The Toasty Show and in the drama series Jozi Streets, among many others.

He had been the lead singer of the band Vinnie and the Viscounts, and in the past seven years performed with his new band, the Rock Rebels. At the time of his death he had been recording a new CD, his website said.

Flynn had written on his site: “I have had offers to live and work permanently in America and England and I have worked overseas dozens of times—but somehow I always return home.

“I am proud of being a South African artist and I don’t think that’s ever going to change. This is my home and I get really homesick when I’m away from it for too long.”

At the time of his death, Flynn was married to actress Jana Cilliers, his second wife.

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