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Australian Story -

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The smash hit 'Paper Giants' ABC TV drama triggered a tsunami of interest in the life and times of
journalist and publisher Ita Buttrose.

Now, in a candid, moving, and surprising double episode, Ms Buttrose, and those closest to her, go
on the record with their recollections of a trail blazing career and a momentous period in
Australia's social history.

It's access all areas, from her early career, her alliance with Kerry Packer and their spectacular
falling out, to the wilderness years and her 'rebirth' following the success of 'Paper Giants'.

Those interviewed include former Packer right hand man Trevor Kennedy, actress Asher Keddie, Ms
Buttrose's brother Julian and her daughter Kate, Governor-General Quentin Bryce and former 'Cleo'
magazine editors Shelley Gare and Lisa Wilkinson.

PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT: Monday, 15 August , 2011

DAME EDNA EVERAGE, PRESENTER: Hello Possums. I need no introduction to you. But tonight's
Australian Story does. You see, it's about one of my favourite little Australian protégΘs. That's a
French word meaning possums. I first met little Ita Buttrose when she was editing Cleo Magazine and
I agreed to star as a cover girl. I was Miss September 1974. It elevated Ita's career into the
stratosphere. Now a new generation of Australians have discovered Ita through the success of the
Paper Giants drama series on ABC TV. Personally, I've never seen it or even heard of it. I'm sure
it's wonderful. But how close does the series come to the truth? This is Ita Buttrose's own story!

JULIAN BUTTROSE, BROTHER: You will never catch Ita out in public without her hair being done or
without the make-up on.

SHELLEY GARE, JOURNALIST AND FORMER CLEO EDITOR: She is a very beautiful woman - those big eyes and
the big mouth and the perfect hair. But it must have been very tough on her to be that perfect
every day.

KATE MACDONALD, DAUGHTER: Mum was always well groomed. There was no way, I think, she'd want to get
a photo taken with her in tracky pants. And you will never see her in tracky pants. (laughs)

ITA BUTTROSE: You will never see me in tracky dacks. You know, you live in hope. You think, 'God, I
might just go around the corner and Robert Redford will be there'.

(Excerpt from ABC series Paper Giants)

ESME FENSTON: Miss Buttrose.


ESME FENSTON: Sir Frank wants to see you in his office

ITA BUTTROSE (ASHER KEDDIE): Oh! Do you know what it's about?

ESME FENSTON: He's waiting. Let's go.

(End of excerpt)

ITA BUTTROSE: I had what was called a consulting role on Paper Giants. I know I have a lisp, but I
thought I had it under control, quite frankly. And I really think that the producers found every
's' word that was ever going to cause me a problem and gave them to Asher to say.

LISA WILKINSON, FORMER CLEO EDITOR: Kerry Packer had a really good reason for believing in Ita.
It's simple, she knows her stuff.

TREVOR KENNEDY, FMR ACP MANAGING DIRECTOR: Obviously there was a bit of electricity uh.. in the
Ita-Kerry relationship.

SHELLEY GARE, JOURNALIST AND FORMER CLEO EDITOR: I think it was pretty clear, when you were
watching Paper Giants that that was an organisation where there was quite a bit of head kicking.
Clearly there were times when she was having a really rough time at the hands of the Packers. And I
think that her quite autocratic style, I think that's very understandable when you look back and
think of the pressures that were on her.

JULIAN BUTTROSE, BROTHER: No-one's going to eat Ita alive. She learnt to ride with the punches and
stand her own ground. She doesn't take a backward step.

JENNIFER BOUDA, BEST FRIEND: Since Paper Giants was released it is almost as though Ita has been
rediscovered. It's boosted her career, brought her back into the public consciousness a bit. It's
been wonderful for her, I think. And she's thoroughly enjoying it. (Laughs)

QUENTIN BRYCE, GOVERNOR-GENERAL: And now in 2011, here is Ita doing the same thing, talking about
the things that matter to all Australians, but especially to women. Ita's career was absolutely
path breaking. She broke down barriers for women.

ITA BUTTROSE: I don't think I've ever been as busy. It's like it was maybe thirty years ago,
something like that. I think I've been rediscovered. And it's funny, in a way, because I haven't
been anywhere. I've been around. Perhaps I've just been under the public radar a little.

SHELLEY GARE, JOURNALIST AND FORMER CLEO EDITOR: There are certain people who, when you look at
their photographs, you want to keep looking at them. Marilyn Monroe was one and so was Diana
Princess of Wales. And Ita's one of those people too. And there's this aura of glamour and mystery
behind her. And she was very successful. How did she do it?

ITA BUTTROSE: I was the second child in the family. I had three brothers. I understand what
boys-stroke-men are like, because boy I had some really good teachers.

JULIAN BUTTROSE, BROTHER: Of course William, Charlie and I moulded her. We weren't going to have a
namby pamby girl in the family. We wanted a girl that was a woman, that stood up, but you know,
could handle it with the boys. Ita's proved that time and time again.

ITA BUTTROSE: Whatever they did I did and so I didn't think there was anything boys could do, that
I couldn't do. And I still don't. Dad was working for the Sydney Morning Herald as a war
correspondent. He was in Java when I was born. And he learnt of my birth via telegram. I was the
only one of us that decided to follow in dad's footsteps and become a journalist. And I decided
that when I was 11. I just knew this was what I wanted to do. Then I got my first job as a copy
girl on the Australian Women's Weekly. And that's really about as low as you can begin. I was 16
when I got my cadetship and I was really thrilled. I mean, it was- this was it. I was on my way.
Unfortunately, Mum and dad's marriage didn't last and it was around about the time when I was
starting work that the marriage broke up. I think I realised then that it would be best if I always
looked after myself, if I made myself responsible for me.

JULIAN BUTTROSE, BROTHER: Ita, like her mother, was very attractive. You know, if you were a young
blood, yes your eye would swing to Ita, and you'd think, 'Ooh!'

JENNIFER BOUDA, BEST FRIEND: She only had to open those big eyes of hers and flutter her eyelashes,
and didn't matter how old the man was, he was... you know, 'Oh!' And she knew how to use whatever
it was that she had.

JULIAN BUTTROSE, BROTHER: There was a practice in our family that one of us would bring home a waif
- what we called a waif - for Christmas. And this particular Christmas, I bought home Mac.

ITA BUTTROSE: I took one look at him over the roast turkey and thought, 'Ooh, he looks really
nice'. And we got married when I was 21. And I think I've always had a bit of a penchant for
Englishmen. At 23 I became women's editor of the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs women's pages. Some of
the staff weren't very happy. Some of the staff quit. They thought I was too young. I suppose, you
know, when I think about it, it was quite presumptuous of me to write to Sir Frank when I was 23
and say, 'I want this job'. But you've got to let people know you have ambition. You've got to put
your hand up. See, I've always put my hand up. In 1967 Mac felt that he'd like to go back home,
visit England, so off we went and we both got jobs. And then much to our delight, I became pregnant
with our first child, our daughter Kate. Much and all as I loved being a mother, I realised it
wasn't enough for me. And so when Sir Frank sent me a telegram inviting me to return as women's
editor, I accepted, and we sailed back to Australia. Kate was about 15 months, I think, when I went
back to work. And wow, it was such a shock at first because, you know, being a working mother, it's
quite demanding. And people would say, 'And who's minding your daughter today?' in that way as
though 'You're a bad mother!' They always wanted "bad mother".

(Excerpt from Cleo advertisement)

ITA BUTTROSE: I'm really thrilled to have the job of editing Cleo, not only because I like the
challenge of creating a new women's glossy magazine, but because I'm confident there are lots of
women who are looking for something more in their magazine reading - women who want to be treated
like intelligent human beings, capable of making their own judgements, women who are practical and
feminine, women who are choosing a way of life that is best for them.

(End of excerpt)

TREVOR KENNEDY, FMR ACP MANAGING DIRECTOR: There was a bit of magic to Ita. She clearly had some
ingredient which people were drawn to. And I think probably represented to, to most women something
that they would like to be and doing something that they would like to do.

SHELLEY GARE, JOURNALIST AND FORMER CLEO EDITOR: You have to remember that the newspapers at the
time were pretty stodgy and they still had women's pages, and there were- tectonic plates were
shifting as far as women went. Suddenly we could write about anything. Suddenly we could talk about
anything. And she was at the centre of that.

ITA BUTTROSE: I was just thirty years old. It was such a fantastic opportunity. But then, you know,
the little fission of fear you sometimes feel when you, when you take on these new projects, you
sort of think, 'Oh, what if it doesn't work?' And then you think, 'Don't be stupid, Ita, of course
it's going to work!'

LISA WILKINSON, FORMER CLEO EDITOR: When Ita was in full swing, just about to launch Cleo, she
discovered that she was pregnant with Ben. That didn't go down terribly well with the Packers but
they didn't have any choice. She was the energy behind the magazine. And sure enough, six weeks
after giving birth to Ben, she was back at her desk.

ITA BUTTROSE: Cleo hit the newsstands in November 1972 and I can remember going into the newsagents
and just looking at it and thinking 'Wow!' And, you know, magazines have this wonderful smell about
them, as well. You know, (sniffs) they, you can smell the ink and the paper. It's, it's better than
Chanel No. 5, I tell you.

LISA WILKINSON, FORMER CLEO EDITOR: Ita of course, is famous for the invention of the infamous CLEO
centrefold. And I discovered very shortly after taking over at Cleo that it was a tradition every
Wednesday that the editor would shut the door and get to open all the unsolicited, naked, male,
centrefold wannabes who'd sent their photographs in. And I remember opening up this mail and
thinking 'Ita Buttrose, you sly old fox!'

ITA BUTTROSE: The story conferences at CLEO were never dull. Obviously the sex was an important
part of the magazine. Kerry would sometimes rock into the meetings and you know and he would say,
'Don't mind me. Just pretend I'm not here'. And of course we'd all think, 'We can't pretend you're
not here - you're so big! We can all see you!'

SHELLEY GARE, JOURNALIST AND FORMER CLEO EDITOR: Cleo was always an exciting place to work. You
never knew what was going to happen. You never knew what treats were in store for you . But you
also never knew when you were going to be dragged by the scruff of your neck into her office to be
told that you hadn't done something quite well. Maybe the reason she was so tough on the women, she
was trying to say to us, 'It's tough out here. You need to be as tough as them'.

TREVOR KENNEDY, FMR ACP MANAGING DIRECTOR: I was never conscious that the staff found her difficult
to work with. She was demanding. She was authoritative. But I don't think she- she wasn't a bad
boss in the context of making unreasonable demands upon people. I think she uh.. that she, she was
a good manager.

ITA BUTTROSE: I mean, I've never had trouble getting people to work for me. I don't think I'm
difficult to work for, no.

SHELLEY GARE, JOURNALIST AND FORMER CLEO EDITOR: On the 25th anniversary of Cleo, I wrote about
what it had been really like. And I said that the corridors were full of the smell of panic, of
tiny, frightened journalists trying to avoid the gaze of anyone bigger and more brutal. And by
that, I meant Kerry Packer and Ita.

LISA WILKINSON, FORMER CLEO EDITOR: From what I've heard, people who worked for her and have worked
for her say she's a pretty tough task master.

ITA BUTTROSE: You know, I'm a tough boss. You've got to think, now, what does that mean really?
Does it mean I can make decisions? Yep. Does it mean I won't suffer fools lightly? Yep. Does I mean
I want you to give me the absolute best you can? Yes, it means all of those things. But being tough
doesn't make you mean. It doesn't make you a less than caring person. It doesn't make you a
difficult person to work for. It just means that within your makeup there is a certain resilience.

TREVOR KENNEDY, FMR ACP MANAGING DIRECTOR: Buttrose was no wilting flower. She could give as good
as she took. I think that to some extent that very good ABC show, uh.. misrepresented the
relationship a bit. That characterised her as much more... I think more servile than in fact she

JENNIFER BOUDA, BEST FRIEND: I can remember when I was Kerry Packer's PA I once saw him throw a
telephone at (laughs) a, a poor TV journalist's head. If he'd hit him on the head, I think he would
have killed him. The poor journalist came out and he was as white as a sheet. And after a few
minutes I went into him and I said, 'Mr P, you really shouldn't do things like that'. And he said,
'Oh, it ginges them up, doesn't it?' (laughs) I mean, he could be an absolute bugger. (laughs)

TREVOR KENNEDY, FMR ACP MANAGING DIRECTOR: He had a pretty good aim. I think if he really wanted to
get him with it he would have. He was a big bully of a bloke in many respects. And um.. he uh.. he
was... His temper got the better of him from time to time.

ITA BUTTROSE: As long as you didn't cop too many of the blasts, it was fine.

TREVOR KENNEDY, FMR ACP MANAGING DIRECTOR: Look, the Ita Kerry relationship was a very special one,
across all, across all, across all territories.

ITA BUTTROSE: I've got to say that Kerry was a great person to work with. You know, he was a lot of
fun. He had this fantastic sense of humour. He had this natural curiosity - we thought alike. If I
went to see him with a big idea, he could see where I was heading. And if I went- and if he, you
know - vice versa. We could immediately grasp the big ideas that each of us had. And it's a very
rare thing when this happens. And it's really exciting.

TREVOR KENNEDY, FMR ACP MANAGING DIRECTOR: She had an enormous influence over Kerry. And
essentially that arose out of their joint success with Cleo. Kerry was treated badly by his father
one way and another, and he was not highly regarded. And it was Kerry's success with Cleo that
actually justified himself to his father.

ITA BUTTROSE: You know, he was able to say to his old man, 'Hey look at this, and you didn't think
it would work'.

JENNIFER BOUDA, BEST FRIEND: A man in Kerry Packer's position didn't have many friends. People in
his sort of position don't have friends. And I think he found a friend in Ita. He treasured her
friendship, as she treasured his.

TREVOR KENNEDY, FMR ACP MANAGING DIRECTOR: I think they were drawn together by their mutual
success. Um, they were physically attracted to each other. They enjoyed each other. They're both
personable, witty, outgoing, um.. feisty, if you like.

LISA WILKINSON, FORMER CLEO EDITOR: Ita and Kerry obviously had an incredible personal chemistry
and an incredible work chemistry. And I think there was an enormous trust on the part of Kerry,
that this was a woman who knew exactly what she was doing.

TREVOR KENNEDY, FMR ACP MANAGING DIRECTOR: Do I think they were in love? Yes, I think they were in
love. They were hugely attracted to each other.

GERALDINE PATON, FMR NEWS LIMITED EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Ita was in the vanguard of women being
admitted into the boardroom. In 1974, she was invited to join the board of ACP. And that was a most
significant step and very symbolic for women.

JULIAN BUTTROSE, BROTHER: Becoming editor of Women's Weekly was, was a big feather in her cap. It
was probably the tallest feather she still wears in her cap today, though she has done many things.
We all know the Woman's Weekly was the number one magazine throughout Australia. You know, men read
it. And to be the boss of that champion magazine, big time. Big time.

(Excerpt from 1975 Interview)

ITA BUTTROSE: The Women's Weekly isn't going to be another Cleo, just as Cleo was never meant to be
another Women's Weekly. We have both magazines catering for both tastes of the public. And I- they
have their identities and you stay in those identities.

(End of excerpt)

ITA BUTTROSE: Well, of course you feel frightened when you take on these big jobs and I was still
very young. And, and I, and I still had a lot to learn. I mean, you just know you have a lot to
learn. And um.. and I, I did feel sort of nauseated and I found it difficult to sleep, because so
much was going on in my mind. I spent five years as editor of the Women's Weekly, then Editor in
Chief, and then publisher of Consolidated Press Women's Division.

JENNIFER BOUDA, BEST FRIEND: I think the seventies, for Ita, were her golden decade. And she
became, as, I say, an icon, an Australian icon. You only had to say 'Ita'. No one ever said, 'Ita
who?' I suppose you could say that, at that time her career did get, you know, did get between she
and her husband.

ITA BUTTROSE: Look, we had a good marriage while it lasted but not everything in life lasts. And
we, we're good friends and, you know, we've raised the children and we've shared that upbringing.
And so we're pleased with the way they've both turned out. Oh, I think my children are easily the
best thing I've ever done in my whole life. You see things through their eyes when they're little
that's quite magic. And as they grow up and you see how they're turning out you think, 'Oh, all
that nagging's paid off'.

KATE MACDONALD, DAUGHTER: At school, because my last name's different, kids were more interested if
I was Ronald McDonald's daughter, because they wanted free hamburgers and chips. Not because of who
mum was.

ITA BUTTROSE: Yeah, free hamburgers. And Ben used to yell out, 'Mum, Ita Buttrose is on
television!' (Laughs) I don't know who he thought I was.

KATE MACDONALD, DAUGHTER: Mum was always there for us. So even though she worked very long hours
and was not at home looking after us full time, she always said if we ever need anything or
anything was a worry, or anything like that, we could just call her. And we did. I remember when we
were kids and we used to do the supermarket shopping every Saturday. My brother would think it was
really funny to run down the aisle and then turn around and then yell at the top of his voice,
'Look, there's Ita Buttrose!'

BEN MACDONALD, SON: Shopping is a boring exercise at the best of times. I used to think- this is

KATE MACDONALD, DAUGHTER: And Mum would be going 'Sh, sh! Come here! Quiet, quiet!' And then we'd
go to the next aisle and it would all happen again.

LISA WILKINSON, FORMER CLEO EDITOR: In 1979, Ita was awarded the OBE for services to journalism.
She was voted the most admired woman in the country and she was also doing the weekly Woman's
Weekly ads. So Ita was absolutely everywhere.

ITA BUTTROSE: Doing those Women's Weekly commercials soon taught me of the impact that television
had. It was such an instant medium. And, you know, I thought, 'Ooh, I'd like to do more in that
field'. I had lots of job offers from Channel 9 when I was at Consolidated - anchor the Today Show,
it was just beginning - be a reporter on Sixty Minutes. And Kerry always said no. And I think
because he saw me as always running the Women's Weekly, and I think he was worried that if I was
involved in something else that perhaps the Weekly would suffer. I was 38. I'd certainly climbed
right to the top of the ladder. You know, I was well paid, great job, but I was stymied. I couldn't
go any further. And I didn't want to stop my climb.

TREVOR KENNEDY, FMR ACP MANAGING DIRECTOR: Ita was never one to take a step back in the sense of,
her ambition would have probably been, had she stayed there, to be the ultimate, you know, Chief
Executive of the company. Mercifully, she left and I got the job. Kerry and Ita were very, very
close. And it was only when they, sort of fell out that she left for other places.


ITA BUTTROSE: We were great friends, best friends, and had we made a pact. And even though one of
us is dead, I'm honouring the pact.

SHELLEY GARE, JOURNALIST AND FORMER CLEO EDITOR: To watch this woman, who'd been so powerful and
been such a part of the empire suddenly stripped of everything. It was in Kerry's gift - he giveth,
and he taketh away.

competitive. Kerry doesn't like people to defect.

ITA BUTTROSE: It was quite a shock though, News Limited. I was hissed at as I walked through the
editorial open plan floor. After I closed Ita, I did write off a few applications and I didn't even
get a response. And I thought 'That's a bit crook'.

SHELLEY GARE, JOURNALIST AND FORMER CLEO EDITOR: Society kind of spat her out and nobody came to
her aid.


ASHER KEDDIE, ACTOR: I though "Oh, God!" Here we go! This is- these are the shoes I have to walk

SHELLEY GARE, JOURNALIST AND FORMER CLEO EDITOR: And I don't think that living well is the best
revenge. I think that keeping on going is the best revenge.