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Sir Frank Packer

1906 – 1974

Sir Douglas Frank Hewson Packer KBE (1906-1974), media proprietor, grew up in Sydney and became a cadet journalist on the Daily Guardian, owned by his father RC Packer, in 1923. Four years later he became advertising director of Smith's Newspapers Ltd, of which his father owned a large share. In June 1933 he and his mentor, EG Theodore, published the first edition of the Australian Women's Weekly - an instant success. Three years later, having inherited all his father's media interests, he formed Consolidated Press Ltd with Theodore and became its managing director. After World War II, in which he served on the Allied Works Council and, briefly, in New Guinea, he ramped up his papers' support of the Liberal and Country parties, during the Cold War 'turning increasingly to the right', according to his biographer Bridget Griffin Foley. Later, he was dubbed a 'king-maker' for his role in the rise of Prime Minister William McMahon. In 1955 he established Television Corporation Ltd, which began transmitting through TCN 9 the following year. He was knighted in 1959, two years before he acquired and revivified the Bulletin. A keen sportsman from his unscholarly schooldays, Packer played golf and polo, bred horses and boxed. He was an aggressive sailor, and chaired a syndicate that built Gretel and Gretel II to challenge the America's Cup in 1962 and 1970. In 1972, after he had been made KBE, he sold the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph to Rupert Murdoch, who had previously paid tribute, albeit equivocally, to Packer's business acumen. By the time he died, still mourning the loss of his papers and planning to restart his presses, his Australian Consolidated Press was the largest magazine publisher in the southern hemisphere. Packer's first wife, Gretel Bullmore, died in 1960. In 1964 he married Florence Porges in London, and they returned to live in Australia. Upon his death his empire passed to his younger son, Kerry.

Updated 2018