South African Classic Film Star Ian Yule by Deborah Painter

 Born in 1933 in Great Britain, Ian Yule is still with us, although now retired from acting.   Yule had a distinguished military career as a member of the British Special Air Services, and was also a member of the Royal Artillery and Parachute Regiment.   He later worked as a soldier of fortune. Yule’s first involvement in the motion picture industry took place in the late 1950s when he was visiting Los Angeles, California and was encouraged to work as a stuntman in the MGM picture Ben Hur in 1959. Yule worked in the climatic chariot race.  The film won eleven Academy Awards, including Best Costume Design, Best Editing and Best Special Effects.

Yule made connections in Hollywood that would help him when he concentrated on motion pictures and television in South Africa and Europe.  His skill with firearms made him totally authentic as a stuntman in such films as the lavish war drama The Longest Day (20th Century Fox,1962), set during World War II and starring an international cast that included Eddie Albert, Jeffrey Hunter, John Wayne, Sal Mineo, Red Buttons and Robert Mitchum. 

The retired soldier expanded his film work into acting and secured the part of Andy Wilson in a drama about trawlers, The Wild Season (Universal International, 1967).  He was a henchman in the 1967 South African production from Mimosa Films The Professor and the Beauty Queen, directed by Jaime Uys. 

Ian Yule (right) has to break the news to Marie du Toit and Gert van den Bergh that her husband and his son have been killed in a fishing accident, in The Wild Season.  CREDITS:  Universal International

He would himself become internationally famous as a filmmaker. In the German television series Schatzsucher unserer Tage  Ian Yule had a recurring role as “Freddy”.  Yule landed a part in The Wild Geese in 1978 for Richmond Film Productions West/Allied Artists and introduced producer Euan Lloyd to Colonel “Mad” Mike Hoare, a soldier of fortune. Yule had earlier served with Hoare.  Both became military advisors.  Their involvement increased realism of the drama about older mercenaries assembled to vanquish a dictator.  Yule wore his real life Winged Dagger Tan beret in his role as Cockney accented Sergeant “Tosh” Donaldson.

Ian Yule as Military adviser

Other films during the 1970s include Killer Force in 1976 co starring Christopher Lee, One Way in 1976, and Golden Rendezvous in 1977. Later pictures included Safari 3000 (Levi- Gardner-Laven, 1980), starring David Carradine, Christopher Lee and Stockard Channing.  Ian was “Freddy Selkirk” in this off-road road race comedy. Yule then became a screenwriter in addition to his acting work and penned the screenplay for Shamwari, produced by the Four Jacks and a Jill Film Company.  He and fellow South African international actor Ken Gampu starred. They engaged in a publicity stunt for the 1982 film which promoted their being chained together to walk the 643 kilometers from Durban to Johannesburg.  This stunt tied in with the theme of the film which bore a similarity to the American film The Defiant Ones, in which two men of different races, also walking together while working in a chain gang, were made to travel together and thus learned trust.    City of Blood, an Anant Singh production of 1987, was a horror fantasy. Yule had the starring role of Max Wharton, working once again with Ken Gampu to apprehend the culprits in killings that seem connected to an ancient witch doctor.

A land of dinosaurs provided Victorian era adventure for Ian Yule in the Canadian-produced films The Lost World and Return to the Lost World (both 1992).  Yule continued to work in made for German-and South African-produced made for television movies in the 1990s through the early 2000s and also stayed busy in the films Cyborg Cop III and Operation Delta Force 3: Clear Target.  Der weiße Afrikaner (D & D Filmproduktion, 2004) was his last made for television movie.  His legacy includes over fifty films and television programmes.