Today's Birthday 3/12

Taylor Thompson-Fuller
Sir Frank Packer inherited his father RC Packer's media interests on his death in 1934

Today's Birthday, November 3: Frank Packer, media baron (1906-1974)

A new play investigating the lives of Sydney's media mogul family the Packers reveals the often-stern and brutal relationship patriarch Frank Packer had with his princelings.

Packer and Sons follows a young boy who is learning how to take the reigns of the dynastic Packer empire and how to assume that archetypal role true to the family's style.

"This really is a story about a very chauvinistic environment," playwright Tommy Murphy told the ABC this year.

Frank Packer, known as a charming albeit brutish figure, cemented the toxic masculinity of the Packer empire into stone.

While Frank enjoyed a supporting relationship with his father Robert, he didn't extend the olive branch to his sons, often telling them they wouldn't amount to anything.

Clyde, the first born and heir apparent, struggled under the weight of his father's lofty expectations and constant negativity, but his younger brother, the now infamous Kerry Packer, adapted and overcame.

"Clyde never developed the body armour that [his younger brother] Kerry did," Murphy said in an interview with the Financial Review.

Sir Douglas Frank Hewson Packer was born and grew up in Sydney, where his father worked as a journalist before building his fortune in the publishing industry.

At 17 Frank Packer followed his father into the industry and became a cadet journalist at one of the newspapers his father co-owned in 1923.

In the late 1920s he was appointed advertising director of the paper, before joining his father's newly formed newspaper conglomerate Associated Newspapers Ltd in 1932.

He inherited the company on his father's death in 1934 and from 1936 until his own death in 1974, served as chairman.

Under his leadership, the papers, including the Daily Telegraph, supported conservative politicians and consistently attacked Labor candidates and governments.

In the mid 1950s Frank established Television Corporation Ltd, obtained a Sydney television licence and began transmitting experimental programs.

The license would form the basis of the Channel 9 network, which would come to dominate Australia's media landscape after being handed down to Frank's son, the infamous Kerry Packer.

Frank Packer, like his sons that followed, loved sport. He won the 1974 Caulfield Cup with his part-owned stud Columnist and fielded two boats to contest the 1962 and 1970 America's Cup.