In the early 20th century, Spencer Cosens was Australia’s greatest showman. With his wife, projectionist Senora Spencer, “the world’s only lady operator”, he pioneered motion picture exhibition, establishing the first permanent cinema, introducing sound and colour films and championing local feature production. But a business betrayal would ruin Spencer’s career, permanently sabotage the Australian film industry and result in a bloody tragedy that unfolded like something out of the movies.
In June 1928 sisters Esther Vaughan and Sarah Falvey were shot and killed in the lolly shop that had made them favourites in the Sydney suburb of Dulwich Hill. Who killed the sisters and why? For the first time the mystery and main suspect are reinvestigated.
In 1937 Jean Burns was widely reported as Australia’s first woman parachutist — but the newspapers were out by nearly half a century. For six months in 1890, Valerie and Gladys Van Tassel — under the management of “Professor” Park Van Tassel, their supposed brother — caused a sensation with their dazzling parachute jumps from trapezes suspended beneath crude hot air balloons thousands of feet in the air. But along with the spectacle came scandal and tragedy whose mysteries endure to this day.