Fifty years ago Carlotta made history on Australian television

Australian television made history in 1973 when the fabulous Carlotta joined the cast of adult soap opera Number 96.

Credited as Carolle Lea, the famous cabaret performer became the first actor who is transgender to play a transgender character. It was a world first.

The show was certainly pushing boundaries in the early 1970’s featuring a number of gay and lesbian characters, stories about drug use, sexual assault, interracial romance and frequent nudity.

The show was set in an apartment block, and it became the first huge hit show for Network 10.

Carlotta played Robyn Ross who embarked on a doomed relationship with Arnold Feather. The scene where Feather realises that the woman that he’s fallen in love with is transgender is one of the most remembered scenes from the series.

Television historian Andrew Mercado highlighted the anniversary on Twitter and noted that it showed that Australia has a long history of embracing and accepting people who are transgender.

“50 years ago tonight, our own Carlotta made history by becoming the first transgender actor in the world to play a trans character on TV. That’s how progressive and accepting Aussie TV used to be, so reject all those awful TERFs with their hatred and bigotry. Congrats Carlotta!” Mercardo said.

“Nobody protested at this storyline. It was totally accepted by what was then a vast audience for Australia’s top rating show. Those who rang Channel 10 did not complain, they ran to say they were amazed and wanted to know if Carlotta was the real deal. End of.”

OUTinPerth’s Graeme Watson interviewed Carlotta back in 2019.

OIP Staff

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