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Dione Lucas and the beginnings of television in Australia
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Jillian Adams
English-born, American television celebrity chef Dione Lucas, toured Australia in 1956, 1958 and 1960, each time sponsored by The Australian Women’s Weekly (AWW), a magazine that at that time boasted weekly sales of 750,000 copies. On the surface, Lucas’s 1956 Australian visit is in line with the magazine’s practice of bringing high profile international guests to Australia to promote the magazine and increase sales. But there was a more compelling reason for her to travel to Australia. With the launch of television just weeks away, and the knowledge that women controlled 90 per cent of household spending, her cooking demonstrations were closely linked to the promotion of the sale of television sets and television viewing. This article uses a culinary lens along with archival material, magazine and newspaper articles and personal stories to add Lucas’s cooking demonstrations, and Australian women, and their interest in cooking, to the history of the start of television in Australia. It thus challenges the static narratives, about both this event and the 1950s housewife, embedded in our popular memory.