His father was an Egyptian diplomat, his mother was a Polish duchess from Russian descent. He grew up with her in Cannes. When she was infected with tuberculosis, Shaffy was sent to an aunt in Utrecht. Eventually, he ended up in a foster family in Leiden. He did not finish high school, but he was accepted at the Amsterdam school of theatre arts in 1952.
In 1955, he made his debut with the Nederlandse Comedie (Dutch Comedy). Together with his life partner Joop Admiraal he went to Rome in 1960, hoping to find a job as a film actor. They eventually returned without success. In 1964, Shaffy founded the theatre group Shaffy Chantant, which led to his first collaborations with Liesbeth List.
He also worked with together with Dutch pianist Louis van Dijk. Others, including Thijs van Leer, were members of the group for short periods of time. Together with Liesbeth List, he recorded the classic song Pastorale. His hit Wij zullen doorgaan was parodied by comedian André van Duin in 1975. In the 1980s, Shaffy returned to the stage and the set as an actor. He successfully played Don Quixote in the musical De man van La Mancha (The man from La Mancha) in 1993.
Pieter Fleury made a documentary about Shaffy in 2002, titled Ramses. It won a Gouden Kalf (Golden Calve), the most prestigious Dutch film award. In the film, Shaffy's life as a somewhat confused, shaky old man in a rest home in Amsterdam is shown. He ended up there after being beaten up at night by thugs.
Many years of extensive alcohol use are the main cause of his current condition. Some say he suffers from Korsakoff's syndrome, but his doctors have never diagnosed him with it. In the years following the film, Shaffy's condition improved slightly. His memory had become better and he sometimes made public appearances again. In the fall of 2005 he even re-recorded his 1978 hit song Laat me, together with Liesbeth List and the band Alderliefste.
It became a small hit. Shaffy died of esophageal cancer on Tuesday the 1st of december 2009. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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