Suzanne Dale Baker AM (born 1939) is an Australian film producer, print and television journalist, writer, historian and feminist. In 1977, she became the first Australian woman to win an Academy Award, winning for the animated short film Leisure in the category Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

Suzanne Baker

Born1939 (age 84–85)
OccupationProducer, journalist, writer
Alma materUniversity of Sydney (BA (Hons), 2006)

Career edit

Baker was born in England in 1939, while her Australian parents were visiting that country.[1][2] Her parents were New Zealand-born writer and philologist Sidney J. Baker (best known as the author of The Australian Language, a work that was highly praised by America's H. L. Mencken in The American Language) and his first wife Sally Baker (née Eena Dale Young),[3] who separated when Baker was seven[2] and divorced when she was eleven.[3] She has a younger sister, Stephanie.[1] When she was twelve, her mother married Lindsay Clinch, a newspaper editor.[3] Her father also twice remarried.[1]

Baker attended Sydney Girls High School[3][4] but left school at age 15.[2] When her stepfather was appointed to run the New York office of John Fairfax and Sons, Baker accompanied him and studied television production at New York University and worked for NBC.[2] On return to Australia, she worked as a journalist for the ABC and was a producer for Bob Sanders' People. Her career then took her to the United Kingdom, where she worked for Thames TV, and then back to Australia in 1971 to work with the Sydney Morning Herald, where she modernised the women's section called Look![2][3][5]

In 1972, Baker was a founding member of the Media Women's Action Group.[3]

In 1973, Baker joined Film Australia as its first female film producer. In this capacity, she was nominated for, and won, the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for the animated film Leisure, directed by Bruce Petty,[6] at the 49th Academy Awards, presented in 1977.[2] This made her the first Australian woman to win an Academy Award.[3] She did not attend the ceremony, as Film Australia had a limited budget for overseas travel[7] and she was not expected to win.[5] The award was accepted on her behalf by the presenter, Marty Feldman.[8]

In 1978, Baker led a television crew to China to make the five-part documentary series The Human Face of China, which was released worldwide in 1980.[9][10] She also wrote the accompanying book.[3]

Her interest in film making having waned,[7] Baker left Film Australia in 1984 and entered the University of Sydney[7] as a mature age student, completing an honours degree in history in 2006.[3] Her thesis, titled "Realising an Absent Presence", sought to recognise the influence of women on Australian literature, an influence that had long been neglected in Australian literature studies, including in her own father's work, The Australian Language (1945).[2]

In 2011, Baker published Beethoven and the Zipper: The Astonishing Story of Musica Viva, which detailed how an Austrian immigrant to Australia, Richard Goldner, invented and patented a zip fastener for the Australian Army, and used the proceeds to establish Musica Viva Australia in 1945, which went on to become the world's largest entrepreneurial chamber music organisation.[11] The book was optioned for a movie by Tree Productions (producer Brian Rosen). The screenplay (working title The Musician) is by Joan Sauers and the movie is slated for release in later 2020, the year of the 75th anniversary of Musica Viva.[12]

Personal and recent professional life edit

Baker lives in Pyrmont, Sydney, Australia

For the writing of Due Recognition (2018), Baker made her personal life an open book and a template for 150 years of key feminist moments in Australia's social history. Of her book one reader says: "It is a terrific documenting of the slow but inexorable shift in the possibilities for women over the decades and a very sober exposé of the underlying power lines and actions that ensure feminism is not an easy movement."

Filmography edit

Awards edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Australian Dictionary of Biography: Sidney John Baker. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Suzanne Baker, July Lunch-Hour Talk: "Back-to-Front Career", Jessie Street National Women's Library Newsletter, Vol 17, No. 4, November 2006 Archived 5 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i State Library of New South Wales, Record Details: Suzanne Baker. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  4. ^ Sydney Girls High School. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  5. ^ a b Richard Jinman, "She's still got it … and memories of a brilliant career", Sydney Morning Herald, 15 March 2003. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  6. ^ a b IMdB: Leisure. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  7. ^ a b c Richard Jinman, "What Oscar did next", Sydney Morning Herald, 15 March 2003. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  8. ^ Retrieved 14 March 2014
  9. ^ National Film and Sound Archive Archived 14 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  10. ^ Arthur Unger, 'The Human Face of China', Christian Science Monitor, 7 July 1980. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  11. ^ Steve Meacham, "Author plays score of life found in music", Sydney Morning Herald, 27 April 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  12. ^ "Screen NSW". Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  13. ^ On Being a Sheila, ninemsn, 6 October 2002 Archived 14 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  14. ^ "Bird's Eye View of Men", The Age, TV-Radio Guide, 31 March-6 April 1967. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  15. ^ "A Look at the Chaps", Sydney Morning Herald, 26 March 1967. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  16. ^ IMdB: Sister, If You Only Knew. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  17. ^ State Library of New South Wales: Seeing Red and Feeling Blue. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  18. ^ IMdB: Saturday. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  19. ^ IMdB: After the Flood. Retrieved 14 March 2014
  20. ^ IMdB: Land of Hope. Retrieved 14 March 2014