22 February 2012

Aaf Bouber

Aaf Bouber (1885 - 1974) played the central role of Aunt Piet in the early Dutch sound film De Jantjes/The Tars (1934). Her husband, author-actor-director Herman Bouber wrote this milestone of the Dutch cinema. From the 1910’s into the 1950’s, Aaf Bouber acted in several popular Dutch films.

Aaf Bouber, Marie van Westerhoven
Dutch postcard. Photo: Loet C. Barnstijn/Hollandia Film Prod. On this postcard for De Jantjes (1934), Aaf Bouber is seen on the left with right actress Marie van Westerhoven as the gossip Betje.

Incomparable Character Actress
Aaf Bouber was born as Aafje ten Hoope in Hoorn, the Netherlands in 1885. She was the daughter of goldsmith Cornelis ten Hoope en Antjen van der Woude. As a child she was already loving the stage and performed at parties and markets in her hometown Hoorn. When she was sixteen she left home for Amsterdam and was engaged for the variety show Amsterdam starring Louisette and Chrétienne in the royal theatre Carré. In the next years she worked with such Dutch stage legends as Willem Hart and Louis Bouwmeester. In 1907 she married Herman Bouber, director of the Plantage Theatre. He helped her to develop into an incomparable character actress in his popular folk plays like De Jantjes, Bleeke Bet and Oranje Hein, all situated in the old Amsterdam neigbourhood de Jordaan. She also acted in silent films like Fatum (1914, Theo Frenkel sr.) with Louis Bouwmeester, the fisher drama Het wrak van de Noordzee/The wreck of the North Sea (1915, Theo Frenkel sr.) and Genie tegen geweld/Genius against Violence (1916, Theo Frenkel sr.) with Chilean film star Adelqui Migliar, who was a star of the Dutch cinema in the 1910's. During the 1920's Bouber played in more silent films, including Cirque Hollandais/Dutch Circus (1924, Theo Frenkel Sr) with Esther De Boer-van Rijk, Oranje Hein/Orange Hein (1925, Alex Benno) as the wife of Johan Elsensohn, and Klassenstrijd (1928, Willy Mullens).

Fien de la Mar in Bleeke Bet
Dutch Postcard by Monopole Film, Rotterdam. Photo: Dick van Maarseveen, Den Haag (The Hague). Publicity still for Bleeke Bet (1934).

Esther de Boer van Rijk, Aaf Bouber, Cissy van Bennekom, Clara Visscher, and Annie Verhulst, in Op Hoop van Zegen
Dutch postcard by M.B. & Z. (M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam). Photo: Dick van Maarseveen, Den Haag/M.H.D. Film. Publicity still for Op Hoop van Zegen (1934).

Classic Fisher Drama
Through the years Aaf Bouber (often billed as Aaf Bouber-ten Hoope) would play all the female roles in De Jantjes. After the surprising success of the sound film version, De Jantjes/The Tars (1934, Jaap Speyer) in which she played Aunt Piet, she played the title character in another play by her husband, Bleeke Bet/Bleak Beth (1934, Richard Oswald, Alex Benno). It became another big hit. Her other films of the 1930’s include the fisher drama Op hoop van Zegen (1934, Alex Benno, Louis Saalborn) based on the classic play by Herman Heyermans, De Suikerfreule/The Sugar Lady (1935, Haro van Peski), another adaptation of Oranje Hein/Orange Hein (1936, Max Nosseck) with her husband in the title role, and De Drie wensen/The Three Wishes (1937, Kurt Gerron) with Annie van Duyn. She also appeared in Veertig jaren/Forty Years (1938, Johan De Meester, Edmond T. Gréville), Vadertje Langbeen/Daddy Longlegs (1938, Friedrich Zelnik aka Frederic Zelnik), Morgen gaat het beter/Tomorrow It Will Be Better (1939, Friedrich Zelnik), and Ergens in Nederland/Somewhere in the Netherlands (1940, Ludwig Berger), which all starred Lily Bouwmeester, the biggest Dutch film star of the 1930's. Ergens in Nederland was just ready for release when the Netherlands were conquered by the Nazis, who forbade its release. During the war Bouber was seen in 7 maal 7/7 x 7 (1942, Walter Smith a.o.) and De laatste dagen van een eiland/The last days of an island (1938-1942, Ernst Winar). After the war she made one more film, the comedy Sterren stralen overal/Stars twinkle everywhere (1953, Gerard Rutten) with the popular comic duo Willy Walden and Piet Muyselaar. During her long career she would play hundreds of roles on stage, radio and television. When she was 85 she played her last role in the TV thriller Ritueel/Ritual (1970). Aaf Bouber died in 1974 in Amsterdam, at the age of 88.

Aaf Bouber, Clara Visscher, Op hoop van zegen
Dutch postcard by M.B. & Z. (M. Bonnist & Zonen, Amsterdam). Photo: Dick van Maarseveen, Den Haag/M.H.D. Film. Publicity still for Op Hoop van Zegen (1934, Alex Benno, Louis Saalborn). Collection: Egbert Barten.

Sources: De Boubers (Bouber.nl) (Dutch), Film in Nederland (Dutch), Wikipedia (Dutch) and IMDb.

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