It hasn’t been a good few weeks for the entertainment scene in Cape Town – in quick succession we’ve lost singers Zane Adams and Walter Brown, and drummer Vic Higgins. Now comedian Jerry Hector has left us for that big stage in the sky.
The one-time funny man of stage shows in and around Cape Town was farewelled last Friday after battling cancer for a few months.
Not many of the younger generation will have heard of Jerry Hector but those whose vintage goes back to the Sixties and Seventies would have seen or known of his antics copying the popular slapstick film star of those times, Jerry Lewis.
So where did it all start for this District 6 boy, born Hector Harrison into a family of four boys and two girls in Van Der Leur Street in 1941?
Jerry Hector schooled at Holy Cross in District 6 but dropped out when he reached Std 7and showed no early inclination to be an entertainer.
“He got his introduction to entertainment through me,” his eldest brother, Ginger Harrison, said.
“I used to be the MC in the late Fifties at the Ambassadors club run by Dave Saunders, on Sir Lowry Road. It happened that the African Jazz and Variety show asked Dave if they could rehearse there.
“Dave was pretty shrewd. He said they could rehearse there if they allowed him to put on a show. He was looking to the future when he wanted to be a show promoter.
“Hector used to hang around the club as a 16-year-old and he often fooled around imitating Jerry Lewis who was big around that time with the movie Sailor Beware.
“Dave organised a sailor suit for him and away he went. That was his start in showbiz.”
Ginger said Jerry Hector never really sang. “He was basically a stand-up comedian.
“What many people didn’t know was that he was a top rock ‘n roll dancer and that he attended dance school and did ballet as a kid.
“The Ambassadors club was the ‘in’ spot for rock ‘n roll in those days and Hector entered a competition that took him to Port Elizabeth where he won the title as national champion.”
“He performed as the drum major (voorloeper) in the Liberties, then with the Mississippis which was the troupe run by his friend Sakkie Small (Sakkie vannie Star), and finally the Liberties.
“Hector was so good as the voorloeper, he won the best voorloeper title for 19 years straight. They eventually gave him the trophy.”
Ginger said Hector lived quietly in retirement. He took ill in November last year and was diagnosed with bowel cancer. He married twice and fathered four children in each marriage.