Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The remarkable Cilentos

One of Australia's most prominent families is the extraordinary Cilento clan. Sir Raphael Cilento was a noted doctor and administrator. His many achievements included being an expert in tropical medicine; Director-General of Queensland Health; working in Germany after WWII in the clean-up of the dreadful Nazi concentration camps; and Director for Refugees and Displaced Persons at the United Nations. His wife, Lady Phyllis Cilento, was a household name in Brisbane for many years, as she was a gynocologist, obstetrician, paediatrician and author, all while raising six kids! She founded the Mothercraft Association in Queensland and for decades was Medical Mother in a regular Courier-Mail column. Of their six children, four are doctors, one an artist of international repute, and one is well-known stage and screen actor, Diane Cilento, pictured here with fellow Aussie actor, Peter Finch.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #194558)

Lady Phyllis's medical surgery was attached to the family home in the Brisbane suburb of Annerley, just opposite the Chardon's Corner Hotel, and next to the Souths rugby grounds. The following picture of the house was taken in 1958.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #189894)

Back in the pre-television days, we used to "go to the pictures" - now known as going to the movies. Our family was quite keen on the pictures, and I can remember seeing a couple of Diane Cilento films as a kid. One was "The Admirable Crichton", where she played a maid who was shipwrecked with her toffee-nosed employers - she had to produce a fairly awful cockney accent, as I recall; and another was "Tom Jones", in which her sexy portrayal of Molly earned her an Oscar nomination. Because she was a Brisbane girl (and the Cilento family house was not too far from where we lived), we actually knew that her name was pronounced "Dee-ahn" rather than "Die-anne", a fact that gave us a certain coolness, or so we thought. More than those who only knew her as the sometime wife of Sean Connery, anyway!
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Lady Phyllis Cilento sold her Annerley home in the 1960s and moved to Toowong. The house was demolished to make room for a service station, but since then it has been regenerated into something a lot greener, and here it is now (above) - a superstore for the horsey set.

Click here for a Google Map.


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