Kerry Packer

On this date in 1937, business tycoon Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer was born in Sydney, Australia. His father was the wealthy Sir Frank Packer, an influential figure in publishing and broadcasting. After his father’s death in 1974, Packer inherited his media holdings and became head of the Australian Consolidated Press (1974–2005), chairman of Publishing and Broadcasting Limited and owner of Channel Nine.

In 1977 he founded World Series Cricket, an independent cricket competition televised on Channel Nine, which provided higher salaries for players and changed the way cricket was played for television. He married Roslyn Redman Weedon in 1963 and they had two children, James and Gretel.

In 1990, during the Australian Open polo championship, he suffered the first of several heart attacks and was left clinically dead for six minutes before being revived. “Believe me, there is nothing on the other side. I’ve been there,” Packer said of his experience (quoted in a BBC News story on Dec. 27, 2005). He then paid to furnish every ambulance in New South Wales with portable defibrillators, which soon became known as Packerwhackers.

He died in 2005 of kidney failure, nine days after his 68th birthday. He had instructed his doctors not to prolong his life with dialysis and that he wanted to “die with dignity.” His private funeral service was held at his country estate.

Freedom From Religion Foundation