Frank Packer

Sir Douglas Frank Hewson Packer KBE, OStJ (3 December 1906 – 1 May 1974), was an Australian media proprietor who controlled Australian Consolidated Press and the Nine Network. He was a patriarch of the Packer family.

Sir Frank Packer

Frank Packer 1968 (cropped).jpg
Packer in 1968
Douglas Frank Hewson Packer

(1906-12-03)3 December 1906
Died1 May 1974(1974-05-01) (aged 67)
Resting placeSouth Head Cemetery, Vaucluse, New South Wales
EducationSydney Church of England Grammar School
OccupationMedia proprietor
Years active1923–1972
Known forAustralian Consolidated Press
Nine Network
Gretel Bullmore
(m. 1934⁠–⁠1960)

Florence Vincent, nee Porges
(m. 1964⁠–⁠1974)
ChildrenClyde Packer (eldest son)
Kerry Packer (youngest son)
Parent(s)R. C. Packer (father)
Ethel Maude, née Hewson (mother)
RelativesPacker family

Early lifeEdit

Frank Packer was born in Kings Cross, in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales, to Ethel Maude Packer (née Hewson; 1878–1947) and Robert Clyde Packer (1879–1934), who started the family's association with the media as a journalist in New South Wales. His father, R. C. Packer, became editor of The Sunday Times and was a founder of Smith's Weekly and the Daily Guardian, which was published by Smith's Newspapers Ltd.[1]

"A mischievous youngster and a poor student", Packer frequently switched schools, attending Turramurra College, Abbotsholme College, Wahroonga Grammar School, and Sydney Church of England Grammar School at various times. He did not sit for the Intermediate Certificate.[2]


In 1923, Packer became a cadet journalist on his father's paper, the Daily Guardian.[1] Four years later, he was a director of the company. In 1933, Packer started The Australian Women's Weekly and then transformed The Daily Telegraph into one of Australia's leading newspapers.

Packer inherited his media interests on his father's death in 1934. In 1936, he joined with Ted Theodore's Sydney Newspapers and Associated Newspapers to form Australian Consolidated Press.[3] He was chairman of ACP from 1936 until 1974.

When television was introduced to Australia in 1956, Packer, along with the other major newspaper publishers (Fairfax, HWT and David Syme), became a significant television network shareholder under the federal government's "dual formula", which allowed each capital city to have two commercial networks and one ABC.[3] He launched the first Australian station to broadcast a regular schedule, TCN in Sydney, which became the nucleus of the Nine Network.

The Packer media empire was known for its conservative leanings, and was a strong backer of long-serving Prime Minister Robert Menzies.[citation needed]

Packer was a keen yachtsman, boxer, golfer and polo player. He was on the Australian Jockey Club's committee for 12 years and won the Caulfield Cup with his horse Columnist. He was also chairman of a syndicate that built the yachts Gretel and Gretel II to challenge for the America's Cup in 1962 and 1970.

In 1972, Sir Frank Packer sold his newspaper flagship, The Daily Telegraph, to Rupert Murdoch.

In 1992, journalist Max Walsh told the House of Representatives Select Committee on the Print Media that Frank Packer had exerted undue newsroom influence. "Sir Frank was knee-deep in [the] editorial policy of the Telegraph", Walsh said.[4]

Family lifeEdit

Frank Packer was married to Gretel Joyce Bullmore (1907–1960) on 24 July 1934 at All Saints Anglican Church, Woollahra. He had two sons, Clyde and Kerry, with his first wife, Gretel. Gretel Packer died in 1960.

Packer married for the second time in June 1964 to Florence Adeline Vincent (née Porges) in London. She died in 2012.[5]

The Packer family tomb at South Head Cemetery in Vaucluse, New South Wales


On 1 May 1974, Packer died of heart failure, leaving an estate valued at $100 million. On his death he passed his empire to Kerry, as he had fallen out with his elder son Clyde Packer in 1972. He was interred at the Packer family mausoleum at South Head Cemetery.


Frank Packer was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the King's Birthday Honours of 1951.[6]

He was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours of 1959, for services to journalism and the newspaper industry.[7]

In the New Year's Honours of 1971 Sir Frank Packer was promoted within the Order of the British Empire to Knight Commander (KBE), for services to Australian and international yachting.[8]

Since 1980 the Frank Packer Plate has been conducted at Randwick Racecourse.

He was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 1999.

Portrayal in mediaEdit

In the 1984 television miniseries Bodyline, Packer, as employer of Donald Bradman, released him from a writing contract so he could play in the 1932–1933 Ashes; he was portrayed by Brian McDermott.

In the 1988 television miniseries The True Believers, Packer was portrayed by Australian actor Max Phipps.

In the 2007 television biopic The King about comedian Graham Kennedy, Packer was portrayed by Australian actor Leo Taylor.

In the 2011 television miniseries Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo, Packer was portrayed by Australian actor Tony Barry.

In the 2013 television miniseries Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch War, Packer was played by Australian actor Lachy Hulme, who had previously portrayed Kerry Packer in Howzat! Kerry Packer's War the previous year.


  1. ^ a b Conley, D. (2000). The Daily Miracle. South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press. p. 24. ISBN 0-19-554024-7.
  2. ^ Packer, Sir Douglas Frank (1906–1974), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 15, 2000.
  3. ^ a b Henningham, J. (2000). Institutions in Australian Society. South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press. p. 282. ISBN 0-19-551050-X.
  4. ^ House of Representatives Select Committee on the Print Media 1992, News and Fair Facts: The Australian Print Media Industry, Report, AGPS, Canberra, p. 263
  5. ^ Hornery, Andrew (29 December 2012). "Genteel society loses a Packer". Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  6. ^ It's an Honour: CBE
  7. ^ It's an Honour: Knight Bachelor
  8. ^ It's an Honour: KBE

Further readingEdit