THE BIG ASK
ITA Buttrose, host of Ita’s Broadway on Foxtel’s Ovation channel, has enjoyed role-model status for more than 30 years.
Born in Mittagong, Buttrose was 23 when she was made women’s editor of The Daily Telegraph. Then came her role as founding editor of Cleo magazine and a stint at the reins of the Australian Women’s Weekly.
Buttrose once said she was able to identify so readily with her readers because she was a working mother with two children. She’s also renowned for being the title of a classic Cold Chisel song, the author of numerous books, an in-demand public speaker and MC, and supporter of various charities.
Buttrose, who at 66 feels ‘‘better than ever’’, appeared on Channel 9’s Celebrity Overhaul series and is on a mission to encourage her babyboomer counterparts to keep fit. You are presenting a series of Broadway musicals on Ita’s Broadway. When did you fall in love with musicals? It was when I was living overseas in New York with my parents. My parents were both very musical: my mother was an accomplished pianist and my dad was a good tenor. Music was a very important part of my life and upbringing. My mother took me to a Broadway musical for my birthday— Annie Get Your Gun. I was seven. I thought it was the most wonderful thing and fell in love with musicals. You hum, tap your foot, they make you feel good. I learned piano for 15 years and we used to have family singalongs.
Do you still tinkle, have singalongs?
I gave my piano to my daughter, who There are so many. I love Showboat. I saw it on Broadway when it was revived and it never loses anything. It’s a grand story, great roles to play, it has a most beautiful score and it has a happy ending that stirs my little romantic heart. You are talking to a romantic here . . . that’s my problem.
You have reached a stage in life where you can pick and choose what you do. What inspires you?
I still love writing. It’s what I always wanted to do. I just finished a book yesterday. And I’m doing another book. The one that went off yesterday is my ninth book. I also do a lot of public speaking and MC work right around Australia.
The two books you’ve just mentioned, what are they about?
When I look at my CV, and the things I’ve done other than publishing, there’s been a lot of work in the health sector. I must be a frustrated doctor. In terms of health and Australia, there are so many preventive measures to enjoy better health, especially in our older years. So we’ve got the potential to live much longer than our parents. Why waste the opportunity of being in good health no matter what our age?