South African film critic Barry Ronge, 74, has died

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Barry Ronge
Barry Ronge
Photo: Facebook
  • South African film critic, columnist and arts journalist, Barry Ronge has died. He was 74.
  • Ronge died "peacefully in the arms of his life partner, Albertus van Dyk, on Sunday 3 July," a statement on Facebook said.
  • The statement went on to share what he wrote in his final column in Spit 'n Polish, published on 23 February 2014. 

The iconic and prolific South African film and arts critic and writer Barry Ronge, born Barry Johann Ronge, has died at 74 in Johannesburg.

Ronge who retired in 2014, died on Sunday, 3 July at home in the arms of his life partner Albertus Van Dyk but requested that his death only be officially announced a week after his passing. They have been a couple for the past 45 years.

The Buz Factor publicist Bridget Van Oerle told eNCA that Ronge died from old age and natural causes and was with his life partner Albertus van Dyk and only wanted the news about his death to be announced 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 incredible relationship."

Ronge was born in Hillbrow, Johannesburg and grew up on the West Rand where he attended the 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 reporting for the Women's Page of The Star newspaper in Johannesburg between 1980 to 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 of Ms Rebecca Parker, did restaurant and food reviews for the Sandton Living magazine and often got a lot of hate mail about it. 

Ronge became iconic for his long-running Spit 'n Polish column published in the since-discontinued Sunday Times magazine (and which was published as a book in 2006) and his Sunday-night radio show on 702 from 1989 to 2004, on which Albertus was a producer.

The South African journalist was a reporter for M-Net's (DStv 101) entertainment magazine shows like Front Row and did reviews for M-Net's Revue Plus, and later did stints fronting TV shows built specifically around him as a South African film critic.

It was on M-Net's (DStv 101) Cinemagic with Barry Ronge, and later SABC3's Screenplay, in which Ronge would grade films with alliterating numbers like a "Titanic 10" or a "Failing Four" which solidified his place as South Africa's most well-known and feared film critic. He later also voiced the SABC2 arts and entertainment series Artcha since 2008.

In 2015 the Sunday Times renamed its prize for South African literature to the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize.

Tributes poured in following news of his death on Saturday.

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