Woman Tabberer, Maggie


Entrepreneur, Fashion designer, Fashion editor, Model, Publisher and Television personality

Written by Frances Baldwin, National Film and Sound Archive

Maggie Tabberer has been in the public spotlight for over 50 years. A leading lady in both fashion and the media, she has maximized this appeal, to become a true role model. Born Margaret May Trigar in Parkside Adelaide in December 1936, Maggie was the youngest of five children of Molly and Alfred Trigar. Her siblings say she inherited her mother's eyes and complexion as well as an ability to see things through. She was born to be a perfectionist, a quality that has held her in great stead as one of Australia's most photographed and loved personalities. Maggie started modelling at the age of 14, enrolling in a modelling academy, owned by Jill Robb. At 23 she was discovered by a leading German-Australian photographer Helmut Newton. She married twice and raised two girls, Amanda and Brooke while juggling her busy life in the media.

Tabberer's public profile led to a role in television, when radio star Harry Dearth asked if she would be interested in doing a pilot for a show called Beauty and the Beast. 'Well sure' she said 'but it''ll never go with a corny name like that' (Tabberer p. 100). Looking back to those early days on Beauty and the Beast, which ran from 1964 to1973, Maggie says 'we were all working our butts off' (Daily Mirror, 26 November 1981). Beauty and the Beast made Maggie a national star, so popular amongst viewers that she was offered her own show Maggie which ran from 1969 to 1970 on Channel 7.

In 1970 and 1971 Maggie won back-to-back Gold Logies for Beauty and the Beast; the first woman to win consecutive awards. Her popularity also allowed her to accept freelancing work with radio 2GB and the ABC and she also hosted several specials for network television. 'Don't forget girls, whatever you do … be good at it!' was her core message (This is Your Life). With a strong work ethic and commitment to her family, women, broadcasting and fashion, Maggie had many commercial contracts and a successful PR business. She began the 1980s in triumphant style when she launched her own fashion brand Maggie T for plus size women which now retails through 27 stores across Australia.

In 1981 she started her highly successful 15 year relationship as fashion editor for the Australian Women's Weekly. Maggie was a driving force behind the presentation, production and coordination of the Weekly's Australian Fashion Awards which ultimately won a High Distinction at the International Emmy Awards 1982. She hosted the 1982 Penguin Awards and was recognised for her contribution to Australian Fashion by becoming the first woman to receive the Sir Charles McGrath Marketing Award in 1985. In 1986 Maggie received the Recognition of Excellence Award by the Fashion Group of Melbourne and the Advance Australia Award for her achievements in fashion. In the same year she designed the ANZ Banking Corporation's corporate uniforms, with orders totalling $9 million. These successes gave her the confidence to pick and choose her projects, appearing in various successful advertising campaigns.

Tabberer returned to television with vigour in 1990 after 15 years away from the screen. The Home Show (1990-1993, ABC), co-hosted with her then partner Richard Zachariah, was pioneering infotainment for television, preceding such programs as Burke's Backyard and Healthy Wealthy and Wise. The show highlighted Maggie's talent and style and reaffirmed her nick name of 'One take Tabs' a true professional in front of the camera. The show only lasted 3 years but subscription television brought a new opportunity with Foxtel, where she became the face of FX Channel (now W.) which was Australia's first television channel for women. The Maggie…At Home With series launched in 2001. 'It's the happiest thing I've ever done on television ... a dream job', she said (Courier-Mail, 12 December 2006). In 2008 the series evolved into Maggie With, a show in which Tabberer interviewed famous Australians in their homes, commissioned for the Bio Channel.

Maggie Tabberer has used her outgoing personality, savvy business skills and entrepreneurial talents to secure a place as one of the most popular personalities and business women in Australia. She is praised for being always true to herself, lacking in artifice or pretension. From her position of leadership in television, fashion and the media, she has inspired several generations of Australian women. She published her autobiography Maggie in 1998.

Additional sources: Harry M Miller Group Biographies, http://www.harrymmiller.com.au/celebritymanagement/index.cfm?grp=Celebrity%20Management&who=tabberermaggie#tabberermaggie; Daily Mirror, 26 November 1981, p. 16.

Archival Resources

National Film and Sound Archive

  • Maggie in Canberra: Interview with Pauline Fanning, 1969, 17074; National Film and Sound Archive. Details
  • This is Your Life Ep. 2/026, Maggie Tabberer, 1976, 32241; National Film and Sound Archive. Details
  • Women Working in Television Project: Interview with Maggie Tabberer, c. 2005, 738887; National Film and Sound Archive. Details

Published Resources


  • Harrison, Tony, Australian Film and TV Companion, Citrus Press, Sydney, New South Wales, 2005. Details
  • Hogan, Christine, Look at me! : behind the scenes of Australian TV with the women who made it : 50 years, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ABC Books for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sydney, New South Wales, 2006. Details
  • Tabberer, Maggie, Maggie, Allen & Unwin and the Australian Institute of Family Studies, Sydney, New South Wales, 1998. Details

Newspaper Articles

Resource Sections

Online Resources

See also

Digital Resources

Maggie Tabberer on This Is Your Life
Audio Visual
National Film and Sound Archive