Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Clive David Ogilvy (1908–1978)

by Caroline Simpson

This article was published:

Clive David Ogilvy (1908-1978), broadcasting administrator, was born on 7 November 1908 at Mosman, Sydney, eldest of three children of David Ogilvy, grazier of Airlie Park, near Delegate, and his wife Emma Ann, née Glen. Educated (1921-26) at Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore), Clive worked as a jackeroo in Queensland. With the onset of the Depression he joined Sir Hugh Denison's Associated Newspapers Ltd and became manager of radio-station 2CA, Canberra. Ogilvy was a director of Macquarie Broadcasting Services Pty Ltd (founded by Denison in 1938) which controlled fifteen radio stations in Australia, including 2GB and 2CA. At Fullerton Memorial Presbyterian Church, Sydney, on 30 July 1938 he married June Adele Munro, a 21-year-old actress.

Appointed temporary captain in the Militia on 9 June 1942, Ogilvy directed the radio campaign for the 'Austerity' war loan. In September he was allocated to the Security Service Intelligence Corps. He was appointed a principal assistant to W. B. Simpson, the director general of security. Promoted temporary major in December 1943, he was seconded to the Australian Imperial Force in May 1944. That year he visited London to liaise with the Radio Security Service, and Washington to work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He told his family that for him 'the war is a field which must always remain a closed book'.

Ogilvy transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 14 November 1945 and returned to the Macquarie Network as managing director. He was appointed in 1949 to Prime Minister Chifley's new Australian Broadcasting Control Board, but resigned in July 1951 owing to a conflict of interests. In that month he masterminded a group, headed by his father-in-law Charles Munro, to buy a controlling interest in 2GB. One of the largest producers of radio programmes in Australia, Macquarie Broadcasting employed such favourites as Eric Baume, Jack Davey, John Dease and 'The Quiz Kids'.

As chairman (1946-c.1963) of Macquarie Broadcasting Service Pty Ltd, Ogilvy was appointed executive-member for the consortium, Amalgamated Television Services Pty Ltd, which included John Fairfax & Sons Pty Ltd. At the royal commission on television in 1953 he led the evidence for Macquarie Broadcasting to acquire a licence, believing the soundest way to launch television and to produce first-class programmes was by private enterprise. Due to his discordant relationship with the chairman Rupert Henderson, Ogilvy was managing director of A.T.S.'s ATN-Channel 7 only until June 1955. In 1964 he unsuccessfully sought an injunction in the Equity Court to remove four directors nominated by Fairfax from Broadcasting Station 2GB Pty Ltd.

In addition to being chairman of Geigy Australasia Pty Ltd and a director of Rothmans of Pall Mall (Australia) Ltd and of several family companies, Ogilvy had business interests in the Netherlands. A friend of (Sir) John McEwen and J. D. Anthony, he was involved in the Federal organization of the Country (National) Party and liked the 'hassle and bustle' of politics. Appointed C.B.E. in 1965, he was a member of the Export Development Council in 1967-68.

Ogilvy was an enthusiastic and efficient councillor (1961-78) of the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales. His flair for presentation and promotion took him to the Netherlands in 1968 to buy, on the society's behalf, a calèche with harness and livery for use by the vice-regal party at the Royal Easter Show. A devotee of equestrian sports, he was president (1955-61) of the Pony Club Association of New South Wales and a committee-member (1955-71) of the State branch of the Equestrian Federation of Australia.

Of medium build, with blue eyes and brown hair, Ogilvy was an intriguer with an engaging and gregarious personality, and a sense of fun. He set off his dashing appearance in well-cut suits by wearing a red carnation. A foundation member of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, he belonged to the Union, Green Room, Tattersall's and Australian Jockey clubs, and was a director (1966-69) of Sydney Hospital. Proud of his Scottish ancestry, he became a keen parishioner and benefactor of St Stephen's Presbyterian Church, Sydney. He died of a coronary occlusion on 18 May 1978 at Woollahra and was cremated; his wife, two sons and three daughters survived him. Graham Inson's portrait of Ogilvy is held by the family.

Select Bibliography

  • G. Souter, Company of Heralds (Melb, 1981)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 22, 28 Jan, 4 Feb, 14 Oct 1949, 7 July, 12 Dec 1951, 2 July 1953, 9, 11 May, 23, 27 Sept, 26 Oct 1954, 2, 3, 22 Feb, 6 June 1955, 20 May 1978
  • private information.

Citation details

Caroline Simpson, 'Ogilvy, Clive David (1908–1978)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 13 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


7 November, 1908
Mosman, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


18 May, 1978 (aged 69)
Woollahra, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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