Talking Movies: Remembering Barry – Episode 8

Welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling. This week we embark on episode 8 of Remembering Barry, a heartfelt tribute to the beloved entertainment journalist and film critic Barry Ronge. A rare privilege, I stepped into Barry’s tranquil Johannesburg home and conversed with his partner of 47 years, Albertus van Dyk. Their starry-eyed story unfolds beautifully, a love that blossomed against their shared passion for the silver screen.

Albertus, so we are sitting in the beautiful, enchanted garden that is a sanctuary and that has got so much history and so many memories and beautiful plants and trees and creatures, such a wonderful place to be in.

Welcome to the sanctuary, the unicorn garden.

Thank you. We’re talking about Barry’s career. You know, what were some of the highlights from Barry’s career? I don’t know if he spoke about anything specifically. Which work would you say he was most proud of?

I think being honoured by the British for Barry’s contribution to the English language. And Barry going to the palace to meet the Queen, the one who’s just died, and to get a little certificate. And the Queen showing her beautiful, impressionist paintings to Barry.

Wow. Barry was there for his mum, Agnes, loved English, she was British. And Barry’s love of words and the English language comes from his mum. And also the love of the royal family. Yes, they were royalists, but he was also, they spoke the Queen’s language. That was the biggest achievement of his life. And I know that he so missed his mother that day. I dropped him off at the palace. We’d been to London so often, and I’ve never been to the palace.

So I dropped my darling off at the palace to spend a day. Yes. After he had met Princess Margaret on this celebration in 1981, and had a great interview with her, Barry went on that celebration, and he didn’t know how to get in. And he donned his normal suit, and he did catering for the people, the masses, and the Queen, the Queen’s sister. So I think those were really his most heartfelt achievements, because they were honouring Barry, and he was honouring his mum. He loved it.

Another one, you know, when all the people came to Sun City, Anne Margaret, Barry adored Anne Margaret, in his normal, fantastical way, mentioned something, and she sang him a song that was so special. But you know all of them, Liza Minnelli, Shirley Bassey, so there’s so many, but I think those royal visits stand out.

1981, that’s the year I was born.

Oh really?

Yes, I would have just been alive at that point.

Well, there’s my bear, and his glasses, and a tray, and some sliced meat.

It does look like such a moment.

Did you take that photograph? No, I didn’t. These were media pictures. We rescued them. You know, all these archival pictures of the newspapers, they went the same way as everything else. They got dumped. So there’s Barry’s handwriting. The Swazi Royal Garden Party.

And yeah, you were showing me the press for JFK and Kevin Costner, and how these photographs used to be sent to media.

Exactly. And that’s the old way of doing things before, before electronics and this new media, where everything was done by hand, and you got the glossies, black and whites, 8×10. And yeah, that is what I did behind the scenes, because that was our archive. And at the drop of a hat, Barry said, you know, we need to do a story about Kevin Costner. Well, I’m the record keeper, so out come the pictures. But that’s how we worked, and now it’s almost obsolete. That dinosaur of another era.

And speaking of other eras, before IMDb, with all the references that are so readily available and at our fingertips…


You had to really do quite a bit of work. You either had to stay until the end of the film to catch the credits.


And to furiously take notes. Or you had to have the press release, or something to do with the film, in order to get all the details around the film. You couldn’t just plow ahead. What I find quite interesting, and what I’d like you to tell us about, is your reference system.

Yes, so the photographs are there. The press releases were together. So you’d get a little packet, and you’ll get the press release. Some PR typed it out, gave you the information. You had the pictures, and then you had to write your story. But with Barry’s career, it wasn’t just that.

It was an introduction to the movie, followed by an interview. And so it was all rounded. It was like this amazing kaleidoscope of reality, and it gave him background. But Barry didn’t just parrot a press release, because his passion would not allow for that. So at the drop of a hat, or a pin, we could have all these things there. Of course, we’ve got all the reference books, you know, those big movie guides.

Every year you would buy them, or every 10 years, they’re there. But they are encyclopedias of movie images, and movie history, which you can now just look up at the internet. I wish I have more of Barry’s writings, you know. He would write his column, and it goes into the media, and it’s gone. I’ve got all the stiffys, and whatever. But to take another lifetime, I had envisaged Spling something like your website.

There’s the movie, and here’s Barry’s preview. But that will take another lifetime, or some eager young student who doesn’t even know where Barry is, or who he was.

To collate all of that… it’s just such a treasure trove. And I mean, even in my career, where I’ve just written so much, and done so many shows, that, you know, you actually lose some of the stuff along the way.

Barry Ronge’s legacy shines through our collective memories. In this spirit, we seek a library or museum for his 1,700 film book collection, where his passion for movies can endure. Together, we can ensure Barry’s love for art, film, and culture continues to light our way. Share your ideas, and join us on this mission at splingmovies.com.