Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Andree Marcelle Frame (1910–1967)

by Kerreen M. Reiger

This article was published:

Andree Marcelle Frame (1910-1967), masseuse and childbirth educator, was born on 17 March 1910 in Paris, second child and only daughter of Robert Crooke, a teacher from Australia, and his French wife Alice Louise, née Legat. Emigrating to Victoria on the eve of World War I, the family—which was to include three more sons—maintained French as the language spoken at home. When Marcelle started school at Cockatoo, she was sent home for want of English. Her secondary education was at the Academy of Mary Immaculate, Fitzroy, where she was dux (1926-27) of the Intermediate and Leaving classes.

After completing school, Marcelle trained as a masseuse, attending classes in anatomy and physiology at the University of Melbourne. In 1931 she gained a diploma from the Masseurs' Registration Board of Victoria. At St Kilda on 23 May 1940 she married, with Methodist forms, William Frame, an engineer. Three years later she had a mastectomy which left her with insufficient strength to practise some aspects of physiotherapy. For a time she worked for the cosmetic firm Cyclax Ltd. Widowed in 1952 and childless, Mrs Frame continued to work, though increasingly as a beautician.

In 1959 she visited the Lamaze clinic in Paris to study its techniques for natural childbirth. She returned to Melbourne full of excitement at the possibilities. At her South Yarra flat she drew together a group of her clients to practise the new method of preparation for childbirth—psychoprophylaxis. Clients and colleagues were struck by her dynamism and energy which belied her small stature. Her vivacity and charm were accompanied by intense determination, and a strength of character and purpose that was needed to combat the opposition, not merely of the majority of doctors, but of some physiotherapists who challenged the effectiveness and rigour of her approach. In many ways she stood outside the conventional health professions, but eventually won respect for the care and commitment she gave to her clients.

Frame's clients were so enthusiastic about the birth experiences they achieved under her tuition that they formed the first formal group in Australia to reform birth practices. Established in 1961 as the Association for the Advancement of Painless Childbirth, it became the precursor of a wide network of childbirth reform groups, many of which were loosely affiliated as branches of the Childbirth Education Association (the name adopted in 1965), of which she was patron. Her other interests included art and music, and she was an active member of the Alliance Française.

Marcelle Frame lived only to see the initial acceptance of her cause rather than the widespread development of childbirth preparation programmes that occurred during the 1970s. She died of cancer on 8 February 1967 at Heidelberg; her will bequeathed her body to the University of Melbourne for medical research.

Select Bibliography

  • Herald (Melbourne), 10 Feb 1967
  • private information.

Citation details

Kerreen M. Reiger, 'Frame, Andree Marcelle (1910–1967)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 14 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Crook, Andree

17 March, 1910
Paris, France


8 February, 1967 (aged 56)
Heidelberg, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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