South African film critic Barry Ronge, 74, has died

  • South African film critic, columnist and arts journalist Barry Ronge has died. He was 74 years old.
  • Ronge passed away “peacefully in the arms of his life partner, Albertus van Dyk, on Sunday, July 3,” a statement on Facebook said.
  • The statement then shared what he wrote in his latest column in Spit ‘n Polishpublished on February 23, 2014.

Iconic and prolific South African film and art critic and writer Barry Ronge, born Barry Johann Ronge, has died aged 74 in Johannesburg.

Ronge, who retired in 2014, died on Sunday July 3 at his home in the arms of his life partner Albertus Van Dyk but asked that his death not be officially announced until a week after his passing. They have been a couple for 45 years.

The Buz Factor publicist Bridget Van Oerle said ENCA that Ronge died of old age and natural causes and was with his life partner Albertus van Dyk and did not want news of his death to come out until a week after his death.

“Albertus is obviously very, very sad. It’s a huge loss. They were together for 45 years. They had an amazing relationship.”

Ronge was born in Hillbrow, Johannesburg and grew up in the West Rand where he attended Florida Park High School. He completed his studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, after which he began a teaching career at St. John’s College, followed by a 10-year stint as a lecturer in literature at the University of the Witwatersrand .

He became the first male journalist to report for the Women’s Page of The Star newspaper in Johannesburg between 1980 and 1982 and was also the first editor of The Star’s entertainment supplement, Star Tonight!

As a food critic in the late 1980s, Barry Ronge, under the pseudonym Mrs. Rebecca Parker, wrote restaurant and food reviews for Sandton Living magazine and often received a lot of hate mail about it.

Ronge became iconic for his long Spit ‘n Polish column published in the Sunday Times magazine (and which was published in book form in 2006) and his Sunday evening radio show on 702 from 1989 to 2004, on which Albertus was producer.

The South African journalist was a reporter for M-Net (DStv 101) entertainment magazine shows like First rank and did reviews for M-Net Review Moreand later did guest appearances on TV shows built specifically around him as a South African film critic.

It was on M-Net (DStv 101) Cinemagic with Barry Rongeand later SABC3 Script, in which Ronge rated films with alliterative numbers like a “Titanic 10” or a “Failing Four” that cemented his place as South Africa’s best known and most feared film critic. He later also voiced the arts and entertainment series SABC2 Artcha since 2008.

In 2015, The Sunday Times renamed its South African Literature Prize the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize.

Tributes poured in after news of his death was announced on Saturday.

About Herbert L. Leonard

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