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A HOUSEWIFE CLIMBS
OUT OF THE RUT
-She took up writing
ONE day four years
ago, Sydney house- wife Marcia Hatfield took stock.
Twelve housebound years
lay behind her. And rich, full, happy years they'd been. Tragic, too, in the death of a first-born infant son. Tough, while husband Roy batded to build up his
Good years, though. Marcia didn't really regret a minute of them.
Now Guy, the youngest child, was off to school and the house was strangely silent. Marcia was taking stock, as most of us women have, and all of us will.
That night she said to Roy, "Don't misunderstand. I love you and I love the kids and I'm happy. But I want to do something of my own. I want to write."
And Roy, being Roy, said, "Do it. I'll help you all I
But how to start? Marcia sat down after the chores were done and wrote and rewrote and discarded and wrote again.
She started with what she knew best, the house and children. An alphabet? A children's alphabet. She worked on it for months, then shoved the lot in a drawer.
It all seemed such a waste. Roy consoled, "It's good practice."
(It was also the genesis of Marcia's great success, "Eddie's Alphabet," now showing on TV round the world, but that lay in a future too dim to be fore- seen.)
Marcia went on working, trying. .
"The toothbrushes in the
bathroom," she said, "seemed to sit up and talk to me."
She wrote some stories about a toothbrush family. Her own three children loved them, and so did their little friends. Greatly daring, Marcia started tramping round the publishers.
No luck at all.
Marcia dug her heels in. She took the stories to Ajax Films, to the animation department. She showed them to director Rowl Greenhalgh.
"Great TV potential," Rowl enthused. "There's a world-wide need for material for young children. Go home and write some more."
^Outside encouragement at
But Roy's secretary fell
iii. Marcia rallied round, ran his office during school hours, ran the house, cared for the three children, and wrote far into the night.
Roy did the dishes and whatever he had time for. He also built his wife a
writing-room and put a sign on the door: "Mum's Study."
Marcia wrote 13 stories about the toothbrushes and Ajax sent them to the ABC.
Then middle-child, Scott, had an illness, as children will. His teacher came to call and she and Marcia got talking.
Marcia learnt that there was an acute shortage of Australian plays for little children, so she sat down and wrote one, and then more and more.
The school played in them, and loved them. There was a part for every child. The children could produce them themselves, make the sets and the costumes. And they
were full of Australian animals, birds, idiom.
And a wonderful thing happened. For the first time in her life, Marcia got pub- lished. It was a children's story (of course), and she got $20 for it.
It was so good it was put in a children's anthology.
Marcia resumed her
tramping round the publish- ers. And this time the timing w as absolutely right. Horwitz Martin accepted the little plays. Since they were tied to the big occasions in a child's school-year, they were called "Play Days Around
Six month later, the pub
lishcrs asked for a second volume.
Marcia, feeling a little taller, branched into adult television.
She wrote a number of episodes for the series "Divorce Court," got to know producers and direc- tors, and absorbed all they
could teach her.
("If you honestly tell people you don't know, and want to know," she says, "they'll go to endless trouble to help, you.")
Tilings were starting to move. Marcia got a com-
mission to write - another
children's play for the Aus
-By-1 KAY KEAVNEY
tralian Theatre for Young People.
She called it "Stories from the Pied Piper," and a pro- fessional company took it round the schools both here and in Queensland.
Not much money in it, but an awful lot of satisfaction!
Sometimes she remem-
bered that fledgling effort, the alphabet. It nagged at her. It had potential. But not enough. It needed something extra, something visual, something that would en- chant little children . . .
One day young Guy was digging in the family gar- den. He dug up an earth- worm and start,ed to chat to it. Marcia saw, and some- thing clicked.
"If a child can speak to an earthworm," she reasoned, "an earthworm can speak to
MARCIA HATFIELD, above, at work in her study. At left, Marcia and Roy with the children. Scott, 11, Louella, 13, and Guy, nine. Roy helped Marcia to succeed.
So she sketched a very dapper little worm, complete
with boater and bowtie and cane and Harold Lloyd glasses, and there he was,
the inimitable Eddie.
It all fell into place now. Eddie would introduce each letter of the alphabet, telling stories about it. He would open up the whole diction- ary to the young, teach them by sight, sound, and fun,
above all fun.
Rowl Greenhalgh used the
little sketch when he created Eddie professionally. Ajax were excited. So were the ABC.
Marcia breathlessly told her family, "Ajax are going to make a pilot. In full
color. For world release."
The three children cheered. And Roy was as proud as if it were his own doing, as, indeed, it many ways it was.
Eddie and Marcia moved on to a kind of fame. Eddie
performed for the delight of children in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Big news is expected soon from Desilu. There has been a record, a game. Soon there'll be a
Soon the market will be hit with Eddie puzzles and Eddie playsuits and Eddie plasticine and what you will. The possibilities are endless, and Marcia holds the copy- right.
"I might make quite a bit of money," she said, amber eyes dancing, "which was never the intention. Roy makes all the money this family needs."
Then the august Immigra- tion Department decided to use Eddie - for showing abroad and on migrant ships.
Marcia Hatfield had arrived.
Over the months and
years she went on working, learning, absorbing. She came up with an idea for an adult series showing Sydney as a great cosmopolis. Rod Taylor took it back to the States with him.
And the Sydney housewife and mother got a mention in thc bible of show business, U.S. "Variety." That was the
Ideas poured out of Marcia. She produced a record of Aboriginal legends, "In the Dreamtime," nar- rated by Stuart Wagstaff. It looks like being the first of
She is working on more records, of stories of the great ballets for young listeners, to be narrated by Sir Robert Helpmann.
And she has turned her attention to a most original presentation of news. A pilot is in preparation for an exciting new series, in color, for world-wide release.
Roy is involved in this, too, which makes it doubly exciting.
"They've been quite a four years," said Marcia. "Every- thing has changed except my life with Roy and the chil-
dren. That will never change."
"But how do you fit it
all in?" I marvelled.
"I often write till two in
the morning," she said serenely. "And my day starts at six. I'm organised. You have to be. The thing is, the more you do the more you find you can do."
She looked at Roy.
"Above all," Marcia said, "you've got to have a co- operative husband."
Roy grinned. Roy is tall, tanned, very blue-eyed. He is a highly successful busi- nessman in his own right, but this is his wife's story.
"I'll do anything to help," Roy said, "so long as she doesn't expect it. The day she expects it it cuts out."
"Have you minded, really?" I asked him.
"I'm delighted," he said. "I'm proud. I think it's won- derful. A woman's a person as well as somebody's wife
"Half the kick is knowing I've had a small part in it just as Marcia helped me in my business.
"She has an incredible capacity for work, and she's needed it. Nowadays, with her earnings, she pays for help in the house, but she still does all the real things.
"You don't live by bread alone, but neither can you live in a pigsty. A husband in business needs an orderly house. A wife has to
apportion her time, neglect only the things that don't really matter.
"But the husband has to
help in an active way. A marriage is a partnership. And the more fulfilled the wife is the richer the marriage."
Obviously, they have a pretty good one, the Hat-
So if, happy wife and mother though you are, you're taking stock, long- ing to "do your own thing," take heart from the story of Marcia Hatfield.
All you need is talent, a huge capacity for work, a willingness to learn, a refusal to be discouraged, a strong constitution, a load of vitality - and a husband like Roy.