Who Knew Harry Hart?

Friend Charles got marooned on a Seychellois island from drinking too much. Drink – hard liquor – made them forget about their yacht and it broke anchor and drifted off without them. They were marooned like My Man Friday. And his mate, the colonial. He’s writing a book about his adventures, of which more later, when he has published and become famous. On this lonely island he met ‘an Empire Games javelin champion.’

I went looking for who that might be. I didn’t find a javelin gold medalist, but I found:

Henry Beltsazer “Harry” Hart – a South African athlete born in Harrismith, Orange River Colony on the 2nd of September 1905.

At the 1930 Empire Games in Canada he won the gold medals in the discus and shot put competitions, and bronze in the javelin throw. He finished fifth in the 120 yards hurdles.

In 1932 he went to the Olympics in Los Angeles, USA and finished tenth in shot put, twelfth in the discus and eleventh in the decathlon.

At the 1934 Empire Games in London (originally awarded to Johannesburg, but changed to London due to concerns regarding the treatment of black and Asian athletes by South African officials and fans) he won his second brace of Empire gold medals in the discus throw and shot put competitions. In the javelin throw contest he won silver.

Oh well, any Free State javelin-gooier is a friend of mine!

Hart was the owner of the Royal Hotel in Reitz, Orange Free State, South Africa. He was friends with Hollywood actors Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, US swimmer and Tarzan actor Johnny Weissmuller and CR ‘Blackie’ Swart – at that time a cowboy actor, later the first state president of South Africa. His study at the Reitz Royal Hotel – not really ‘Royal’ – displayed hundreds of photographs of himself in the company of these famous stars, as well as with US swimmer and actress Esther Williams, and Irish actress Maureen O’Sullivan – she played Jane in six Tarzan movies.

Henry Harry Hart himself was apparently offered the part of Tarzan but refused as he had to return home to his farm to practice for the Empire Games. Hmm – I can just hear him: ‘Hollywood? Reitz? Ag, fanks, I’ll take Reitz, OK?’

– the Reitz Royal Hotel – ask to see the pub and Harry’s study –

So Johnny Weissmuller got lucky. Here he is with Maureen O’Sullivan, shouting AAH ee YA ee YAAAH!! She’s a good actress: She’s not blocking her ears.

The SA team to Canada in 1930. Where’s Harry?

– top left? middle second from left? kneeling left? –

Harry died in Reitz on the 10th of November 1979.


7 thoughts on “Who Knew Harry Hart?

    • Wow! Imagine having a chat to him in his bar in the Royal Hotel in Reitz! I’ll bet that would have been fascinating. Can you point him out in the team photo in Canada?


  1. Pingback: Flying to Paris – Bewilderbeast Droppings

  2. He was the brother of my mother’s dad. So my grand father, James Hart, he farmed near Verkykerskop. He himself was a very big man and as strong as an ox. 6 ft 7 in his socks and wear no 14 shoe. He died in 1962 two years before I was born in a motorcar accident. I remeber visiting oom Harry and aunt Alice, his wife and stayed in the hotel for the weekend. After, as I can remember, the bar was closed at 6 in the evening and then we, as small children could go in to the bar and have a colddrink! Oom Harry had his special seat at the end of the barcounter and his clients called him Tarzan. As I can remember, he was kind of silent spoken but full of jokes and stories. I once asked him” How it feels to be a Sprinbok?” He smiled and said: “Become one!”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a terrific story! Thanks for visiting and sharing Lukas. I’ll add that into the story as soon as I can ( traveling now). Do you know Temple Hart, Harrismith farmer?


  3. No I donnot know him but would like to meet him. He might just be my family. As I can remember my grand dad had 3 brothers and 3 sisters. He and my grandma Ouma Mollie had 6 children 1 sun, Wynand, how drowned in the Valsriver in Kroonstad at the ade of 17. My mother Petra, are now 85 years, the youngest and only living one of their family. If its possible that I can make contact with Conraad Scheepers to see where he fits into the family?

    Liked by 1 person

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