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Memoirs of a



                                               Peter Broome spent 43 years with
                                              20th Century Fox Australia, rising to
                                                 the position of Chairman and
                                              Vice- President of Fox International.

          Part One - From Publicity to Film  This was before the phrase ‘sexual  which I knew little) and an ardent
          Booker                            harassment’ had been coined.       Liberal Party supporter (about which I
            When I completed school in 1947 I  By early afternoon Despatch had  knew a lot as a Young Liberal). Ray
          declined my father’s offer of a   dealt with our parcels and we went  was an aspiring actor, performing with
          University degree and other advice to  about invoicing the orders for inclusion  an amateur group in such plays as An
          enter accounting or banking, so he  on exhibitors statements - always  Inspector Calls and Night Must Fall on
          suggested four possible employers for  payable in seven days - or sometimes in  Sunday evenings at the Minerva
          whom he acted - Eveready Batteries,  advance. In those days there were some  Theatre Kings Cross, which I
          Hoyts Theatres, Colgate Palmolive and  900 theatres in NSW alone.    frequently attended. Ray and I
          Twentieth Century Fox.               In later years my cheeky sons would  remained friends until his death.
            After my interview at Colgate, and  ask how a dope like me managed to  Another of Ray’s friends in his
          a job offer, I took the tram to the Fox  become a Vice-President, and my  acting group was Nigel Dick, later
          building, located by regulation -  answer was always, “with lots of luck -  Managing Director of GTV-9
          because of the flammable nature of film  and packing the best parcel in the  Melbourne.
          - exactly a mile from Sydney’s GPO.  business.”                         In  1948 Fox made the film
          The Fox building, complemented by    Early on I realised the importance  Kangaroo in South Australia, and to do
          Paramount and adjoined by Motor   of attitude to the job and the fact that if  their bit for publicity, the stars Peter
          Traders, occupied a diamond-shaped  performance was a mere five percent  Lawford and Maureen O’Hara visited
          block in Brisbane Street.         better than average one would be   our building. Maureen shook hands and
            On entering the art-deco lobby with  noticed. In that era many young people  had a few words with everyone. Years
          the famous Fox logo emblazoned on  displayed antagonism to the boss, but I  later I sat beside her on a PanAm flight
          the floor in terrazzo, I had already  always regarded a boss as having my  from LA to New York. She
          made my decision. My interview was  best interests at heart.         remembered her 1948 visit exactly.
          with Managing Director Sidney         Work hours were 8.45am to      She was the first of many celebrities I
          Albright. He must have seen those stars  5.30pm with 40 minutes for lunch. This  came to know, and probably the nicest.
          in my eyes, said I was just the sort of  discipline was strictly policed by means
          lad he was looking for, and sent me to  of a time book. We were required to
          the NSW Branch Manager, Percy     work on alternate Saturday mornings in
          Kingston who offered me a job in  case of an emergency.
          Advertising Sales. And so commenced  Tea breaks were shared with our
          my 43 year career with Fox,       colleagues from Despatch and the film
          appropriately enough, on April 1, 1948.  vaults located next to us in the
            Fox had branches in every State and  basement. The flat roof of the building
          employed some 350 people, about half  was available as a sunny spot to eat
          in the Sydney Head Office and NSW  lunch if the weather was right.
          branch. My first boss was Clive      Despatch was managed by Jim
          Dieppe, ex-army WW2, who had the  Barnett, who also controlled the rewind
          distinction of being the most-escaped  room staffed by ten or so ladies  Maureen O'Hara and Peter Lawford:
          POW from Crete.                   managed by Marcia McGinty. A clerk  Kangaroo
            Well in advance of screening dates,  in these departments was one step up  In Sydney Fox had a staff social
          five or six of us spent mornings  the ladder from Office Boy of which  club which organised weekly
          packing slides, posters and stills in  there were always three or four under  screenings of new films in a lavish
          accordance with our copy of the   the direction of a ‘Sar Major’, who also  theatrette. By coincidence, the bas-
          advance list brought to us daily by the  controlled a petty cash box and stock of  relief murals decorating the theatrette
          Film Bookers’ secretaries. These young  postage stamps.              had been sculpted by my Aunt, Jean
          ladies were ‘sent up’ unmercifully and  My first friend in the business was  Norton-Broome whose work is
          only allowed to come down to our  Ray Heaps, a devout Catholic (about  represented in every State Gallery and
          department in pairs.                                                 the National Gallery.

          10  2006 CINEMARECORD
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