MILESAGO - Industry
Manager & agent 1960s-70s
Harry Marcel Widmer (1926-2002) was a man of extraordinary versatility. He was a painter, landscaper, house designer, builder, jewellery-maker, industrial designer, band manager, music promoter, car and boat designer and civic campaigner, as well as a swimming coach and prominent businessman, and he spoke four languages.
Queensland-born, Harry was been taken to Zurich to be educated at age four and received a multilingual education, including a Swiss degree in industrial design. He completed compulsory service in the Swiss army (along the way becoming a national cross-country ski champion) and was later in the Australian army reserves, holding the rank of sergeant in the CMF Intelligence Corps.
He returned to Australia in 1946 but despite his great intelligence and his many talents, he now spoke almost no English and couldn't get a job, so he filled in time designing and making jewellery for Proud's while he learned English.
He took a position as a storeman for the General Motors distributor Stack's, but soon moved on to designing the showroom displays. An offer to work in the design department of the British Motor Corporation followed.
By 1961 he was director of industrial design at the electronics company Kriesler, a division of the massive Dutch Philips group. One of the many awards he won was the F.H. Edwards Laurel Award for 1966 for designing the Kreisler Mini 41-47 radio with polypropylene plastic case. The use of this material would later become commonplace, but the competition judges noted this was the first such application anywhere in the world.
In the late Sixties he moved into the music scene, managing bands and performers including The Executives, The La De Das, Kerrie Biddell and Doug Parkinson and setting up a music agency, Cordon Bleu. With the assistance of Melbourne poet Adrian Rawlins, Harry helped to finance the La De Das acclaimed 1969 LP The Happy Prince.
He summed up his band management theory as making sure "all our selected management groups earn enough so they can stay together, live like human beings and improve musically".
Harry was also chairman of the PACT experimental theatre and arts organisation, working to lift the profile of actors, directors and producers (Peter Weir and Graham Bond among them).
Eventually Harry was offered the position of design director of the 212 British affiliates of the Philips electronics group and the family to move to England in 1971. They returned to Australia in 1974. At this time Harry moved into music full-time, managing more bands and artists and developing a new theatrical booking agency.
His new Windsun agency signed up 117 venues from Port Morseby to Perth, while Harry's new television packaging company - started soon after - became heavily involved on the production side, making documentaries and music shows.
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