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Henri Szeps

Born (1943-10-02) 2 October 1943 (age 78)
Lausanne, Switzerland
EducationUniversity of Sydney
  • Actor
  • composer
  • playwright
  • performer
  • advisor
  • translator
OrganizationEnsemble Theatre
Known forMother And Son , I'm Not A Dentist (theatre)
TelevisionPalace of Drams
Spouse(s)Mary Ann Severne
ChildrenJosh Szeps
  • Order of Australia (OAM)
  • Helpmann Award
  • Norman Kessell Award for Outstanding Performance
  • Penguin Award for Best Actor in a mini-series
  • GLUGS Lifetime Acheievement Award
  • Henri Szeps Green Room at the Ensemble Theatre

Henri Szeps OAM, (born 2 October 1943) alternatively Henry Szeps, is an Australian character actor of theatre and television. He has also featured in films and worked in voice roles, and has worked in productions in the United Kingdom.

Early life

Szeps was born in Lausanne, Switzerland to Polish parents. Due to the German invasion of Poland during World War II, his parents fled to France in 1938.[citation needed] His father left the family to join the French Resistance. In 1943, his mother and three-year-old sister made their way to a refugee camp in Lausanne, where Henri was born. At 112 months he was fostered to a Swiss couple in Blumenstein. His mother reclaimed him when he was three years old, and returned to the Swiss couple when he was 412. He was reclaimed by his mother to Paris, and due to her illness, at the age of six was placed at the Rothschild Orphanage. He came to Sydney, Australia at the age of eight in 1951 or 1952 with his mother and sister.[2][3]


Szeps studied acting at Ensemble Theatre during weekends, under the direction of Hayes Gordon, while gaining science and electrical engineering degrees at Sydney University. In 1963, while sitting for the BSc in maths and physics during the day he was appearing every night at the Ensemble Theatre in his first play there, called The Physicists, which ran for six months.

Szeps is probably best known for his role as selfish dentist Robert Beare in the classic Australian television comedy series Mother and Son (1984 to 1994), with Garry McDonald, Ruth Cracknell and Judy Morris. Another prominent role was in Palace of Dreams for which he received a Penguin Award. He played the Doctor in the world première of David Williamson's play, Travelling North, and was asked to repeat the performance in the 1987 film, with Leo McKern & Graham Kennedy.

He appeared in 1981 TV movie A Step in the Right Direction.

Szeps won the Penguin Award for best actor for ABC's 10 part series Palace of Dreams.

He has performed in five one-man shows, produced by the Ensemble Theatre, the last three self-penned: The Double Bass (1990), Sky (1992) (written for him by John Misto, I'm Not a Dentist (1997), Why Kids (2003) and Wish I'd Said That (2010).

He has written a book on acting, All in Good Timing (1996), which is used by drama schools.[citation needed]

Honours and awards

Association Year Award Work Results
Penguin Award Best Actor in a mini-series Palace of Dreams Won
Norman Kessell Award Outstanding Performance I'm Not a Dentist Won
Australian Government OAM For Service to Arts and Community Honoured
Helpmann Award 2003 Cabaret Won
Ensemble Theatre 2014 The Henri Szeps Green Room Honoured
GLUGS 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoured


Year Title Role
1969 You Can't See 'round Corners (movie) Peter
1969 Skippy the Bush Kangaroo (TV series) Bob
1969 Riptide (TV series) Des Dawkins
1967–1969 Homicide (TV series) 3 roles
Peter Scott (1967)
Alan Shaw (1969)-
David Yates (1969)
1971 Misleading Cases (TV series) Pierre
1971 Spyforce (TV series) Dingo
1971 The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (TV series) Laval
1972 Spyder's Web (TV series) Policeman
1972 Spy Trap (TV series) The Frenchmen
1972 The Strauss Family (mini-series) (credited as Henry Szeps) Edi's Dresser
1974 Barlow (TV series) Corsican
1973–1974 Colditz (TV series) 2 roles
De Crossait
Captain Henry LeVevre
1974 Crown Court (TV series) Dr. Herman Abel
1975 Dixon of Dock Green (TV series) Onion Man
1969–1975 Division 4 (TV series) 3 roles
Jeff Taylor (1969)
Brian Martin (1971)
Jimmy Dunn (1975)
1974 Armchair Cinema (TV series)
1976 Number 96 (TV series) Phillip Chambers
1976 God Knows Why, But It Works Dr. Archie Kalokerinos
1977 The Dick Emery Show in Australia (TV series) various characters
1977 Say You Want Me (TV movie) Jim Morton
1978 Chopper Squad (TV series) Falconio
1977–1978 Cop Shop (TV series) 2 roles
Steven Halliday (1977)
Vincent Morelli (1978)
1979 The Plumber (TV movie) David Medavoy
1979 Ride on Stranger (TV series) Vincent Sladder
1980 A Toast to Melba (TV movie) 3 roles
Thomas Beecham
Buffalo Bill
Mayor of Brisbane
1980 Fatty Finn Mr. Zilch
1981 A Step in the Right Direction (TV movie)
1981 Run Rebecca, Run Manuel Cortes
1981 Daily at Dawn (TV series) Joe Parker
1982 Wilde's Domain (TV movie) Shenko
1982 The Best of Friends Lilo
1982 M.P.S.I.B (TV series) Tran Van
1982 Mystery at Castle House Mr. Wilberforce
1983 Now and Forever Barry York
1982–1983 A Country Practice (TV series) 2 roles
Perc Hobbs
Ralph Bianchi
1983 The Return of Captain Invincible Chief Security Officer
1983 Sherlock Holmes and the Valley of Fear Voice (credited as Henry Szeps)
1983 Sherlock Holmes and a Study in Scarlet Voice
1983 Platypus Cove Winston Bell
1980–1984 Kingswood Country 2 roles
Mr O'Grady
Eric the Postman
1984 City West (TV series) Dr. Mikus Kuskis
1984 A Tale of Two Cities (TV movie) Voice
1985 Palace of Dreams (TV mini-series) Mick Mendel
1985 Warming Up Sergeant Peter Sullivan
1985 The Pickwick Papers (TV movie) Voice
1987 Vietnam (TV miniseries) Harold Holt
1987 Les Patterson Saves the World 2 roles
Dr. Charles Herpes
Desiree Herpes
1987 Travelling North Saul
1987 The Edge of Power Steve Traynor
1988 Rafferty's Rules (TV series) Uncle Aniello
1989 Hannay (TV series) Police Inspector
1990 Mission: Impossible (TV series) Esteban Magdalena
1991 Hampton Court (TV series) Mr. Verstak
1992 The Adventures of Skippy (TV series) Frank
1992 Seeing Red Louie Leeds
1984–1994 Mother and Son (TV sitcom) Robert Beare
1991–1995 G.P. (TV series) 2 roles
-Charlie Cassidy
-Ibram Hanaf
1996 Snowy River: The McGregor Saga (TV series), Jacob Verkovic
2000 Stingers (TV series) Norman Sagar
2001 Flat Chat (TV series) Cardinal Del Gardia
2001 South Pacific (TV movie) Benoit
2001 Elixir Bob Sommerville
2001 Escape of the Artful Dodger (TV series) Dr. Hartman
2009 No Junk Mail (film short)
1999–2009 All Saints (TV series) 2 roles
-George Bresnic (1999)
-Victor McGregor (2009)
2010 The Bris (film short) Dobinski
2012 Bathing Franky Rodney
2013 McLean's Money Edward McLean
2015 Peter Allen: Not the Boy Next Door (mini-series) Dee Anthony

Personal life

He met his wife of 47 years, New Zealand Australian actress Mary Ann Severne, during the Sydney season of The Boys in the Band, and they were married soon after. They have two sons, one of whom is Josh Szeps, a media personality and current afternoon presenter on ABC Radio Sydney. He is the former co-host of Weekend Breakfast on the Australian ABC News 24 channel.

In November 2021, his son announced his dad was battling from early onset Alzheimer's disease, and they discussed the issue on the ABC series Just Between Us[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Henri Szeps". AusStage.
  2. ^ "Henri's story". Refugee Council of Australia. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
  3. ^ Wright, Tony (6 September 1988). "Szeps's life would make a good script itself". Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995). p. 1. Retrieved 30 December 2020.((cite news)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)