Vale: Mary Parker

Mary Parker, the first woman to appear on TV in Melbourne, has died.

Mary Fitzgerald (nee Parker), who was the first woman to appear on TV in Melbourne, has died.

She died in hospital at the weekend after a short illness surrounded by her large and loving family, alert and witty until the last, her son-in-law Tim Lee wrote for ABC.

When television arrived in Australia in 1956, Mary Parker became an overnight star and a household name. She had already forged a name in England, where from the age of 21 she had appeared on stage in London’s West End and in feature films and television dramas, opposite actors such as Douglas Fairbanks Junior, Boris Karloff and Lloyd Bridges.

Film studios likened her star quality to Debbie Reynolds, and she had fielded offers from Hollywood. But homesick for Australia, she resisted.

In July 1956, the fledgling HSV-7 network, the first television station in Melbourne, began test transmissions. Soon after, it offered her an anchor role, alongside Eric Pearce and Danny Webb.

On November 4, 1956, HSV-7’s opening night, Parker presented the news with Pearce, a ground-breaking achievement.

As a host, Parker “top and tailed” shows including Beauty is My Business, Eric and Mary (co-hosted with Pearce) and Guest of the Week.

Soon after, she co-hosted the Melbourne Olympic Games with Tony Charlton.

You can read more at ABC.

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