Right to the end, I can't help giggling gently when thinking of Bill Flynn.

The last time I spoke to him was in the ladies' loo at Joburg's Civic - and it's much less ominous than it sounds, and very typical of Bill.

We bumped into one another as he went to the gents and I into the ladies. "See you now," he shouted, eager to tell me about rehearsals for his latest show, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

As I came out of the loo itself and walked into a rather busy restroom, there was Bill.

He wanted to see me and had simply popped inside, quite oblivious of the stir he was causing. This was not Bill the celebrity at work but Bill the man. He was excited about the new show and wanted to know whether I was coming to the opening on Sunday.

As I pointed out that he might be intruding, he looked surprised. "I've just come in to fetch you," he said. And that was true. Always the gentleman and the gentle man, I both giggle when I think of his antics on stage and smile when I think of him as a person.

Married to another South African great, Jana Cilliers, they both had children from their first marriages.

Jana's eldest daughter Lika, then still at school (she's now a professional actress), was participating in a schools acting competition.

Jana must have been involved in an acting project because she couldn't make it to the actual event. Not to worry.

Stepfather Bill was at his post with a video camera to capture the moment for mom. That's the man I remember, the one who was always looking out for others, the one who cared.

And what he loved was inviting people to see his shows. He was the true actor, honing his craft, and once he had done the process, he wanted to show off.

It wasn't arrogance. There was a childlike quality which bubbled underneath the surface, and he wanted everyone to share in his joy.

One of the more surreal moments I witnessed of Bill the actor was when they announced the mothballing of the State Theatre in Pretoria.

Bill was rehearsing Death of a Salesman with director Bobby Heaney. It was the State Theatre production for the Grahamstown festival that year.

We were attending the final dress rehearsal at the State Theatre on the day of the announcement.

By then they knew they no longer had the backing of the theatre because of the temporary closure and, as they did this final dress of Death of a Salesman, in that moment it could have been Death of an Actor.

Bill had played one of the sons in his younger days, with Joe Stewardson as Willy Loman. This dramatic role as the elder Loman was one he had wanted to do with all his heart.

He was as much the dramatist as the comic actor. Think of his role in Paul Slabolepszy's Saturday Night at the Palace.

This is why he refused to let this cancelled production go. He went out, and with the team and they found the backing for the show to go on.

"We ran for nine months," Bill said last Sunday as he was lamenting the closure of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which he believed wasn't being given a chance.

"Promise you'll come and see it, Diane," he said. I did promise, and I was going to see it this coming Sunday.

He was both a giant of an actor but more importantly a giant of a man. I will miss both of them hugely.

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