A Rose by TAA Name

Today’s Poster is sometimes given as “…the most famous publicity ‘pic’ ever produced by TAA or any other airline in Australia”.

325282This page on the ‘Fly the Friendly Way’ poster at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) and written by Curator Anne-Marie Van de Ven, in 2011 gives a good rundown on the poster: “This bold, award winning, early 1950s Trans Australian Airlines (TAA) airline poster features a slightly Surrealist design in which Nola Rose, a Bondi Beach beauty contest winner, appears as an air hostess floating in space. Her vivid blue eyes gaze confidently out at the viewer as three four engine 700 series Viscount aircraft fly right to left behind her.

“In April 1953, six Australian travel posters (including this poster) won an International Poster Competition at the Witwatersrand Agricultural Society’s Easter show in Johannesburg, South Africa…

“The illustrations on this TAA poster are by artist Ralph Malcolm Warner (1902-1966), [and the layout and art direction by the British emigre Modernist artist, designer and art director, Richard ‘Jimmy’ Haughton James (born England 1906, arrived Sydney 1938, died 1985)]. The poster was commissioned by Noel Paton Pty Ltd advertising agency for Trans Australian Airlines in the early 1950s coinciding with the period leading up to the Melbourne Olympic Games of 1956 where the official Olympic Games poster designed by Richard Beck was similarly surrealistic with main motif, a 3 fold card, floating in a sea of blue.

“On this ‘Fly TAA – the friendly way’ poster the slogan below the hostess appears as a hand-rendered TAA logo in bold red ‘shadow’ capital letters; the other lettering appears as more personable and friendly hand-written font.”


The catalogue record here, in the National Library of Australia’s example above, notes: “There are variants of this poster in its background (colour, aircraft or absence of), uniform accessories (hat/beret, livery, epaulettes), a summer (white) and winter (navy or dark blue) uniform, poster size, different fonts, layout and wording published between the 1950’s and 1970’s.”

As well as the other differences, note the difference in the two examples above between her epaulettes and brevet wing – and most intriguing, the medal ribbon. We’ve not been able to find a reason why a model posing as a stewardess might be depicted with a medal ribbon row. Can you answer this oddity for us? (Thanks to Daniel Leahy, the ribbon looks like it covers the 1939-45 Star and Pacific Star.)

Below are five further variations I’ve found from online searching. The ‘wood background’ example from here.

And what would the real hostess have looked like? Well, here’s a publicity image, captioned “Carla Thompson, TAA stewardess, sitting on one of the new telescopes at Mascot Airport, 18 August 1962.” (Photograph John Mulligan, National Library of Australia) from my colleagues at Connecting the Nation here. This is the same cap, but the winter uniform of course.


But back to the beginning. Here’s a photo of a terrific recently found copy of one of the original posters, from this set.


Who was Nola Rose? The NLA page mentioned above states: “Nola Rose was from Sydney … won a Bondi beach beauty competition. Her image was used by TAA extensively from 1950 to 1986. She became one of Europe’s leading models.” Not much appears online that I’ve found, though this Getty image shows a group of mannequins (as models were then known), with Nola Rose on the left: “Les mannequins britanniques Nola Rose, Anne South, Joy Slape, Pagan Grigg, Joy Western et Molly Frith à l’aéroport de Blackbushe, Royaume-Uni, en partance pour Moscou pour présenter le défilé de mode du London Model House Group, le 7 juin 1956. (Photo by KEYSTONE-FRANCE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)”


The TAA Museum adds a bit more here, plus some chronology to the posters: “Identified on Bondi beach by the then Publicity Manager, Ian Sabey, as being the perfect image for a new airline, Nola Rose was recruited to undertake a photographic session and produced a number of photographs that were suitable for the Marketing campaign. … Initially all photographs were black and white, and so it was necessary to have these reproduced in colour in the form of a painting. The first such reproduction was done on a golden background, and later productions to promote the new Vickers Viscount aircraft (1954) all had a blue background. Nola Rose was the face of TAA for more than 25 years, but she was never a hostess with TAA, she was a model. …

Nola Rose died in 1986.”

While the Nola Rose portrait set captured the majority of interest, it wasn’t the only one TAA used – on the left’s an earlier example, from a personal memorabilia collection here. The right example is interesting as a change of perspective, and intriguingly an unexpected black hand (glove?) on the handrail. (In the period, representation of non-Caucasian Australians as air travellers was extremely rare.)

The iconography wasn’t, of course unique to TAA or Australia. Here’s a similar style example, blue eyes and curved pillbox hat and all, from Pan American Airlines, here for the start of the Boeing 707 era, much later.

James Kightly, Vintage Aero Writer.

(The TAA Museum here, is well worth a visit, and has a history of the TAA hostess uniforms.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s