Robina Beard

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    These are the hands of Robina Beard, from the old Palmolive ads that became well known for the catch phrase, ‘You know you’re soaking in it.’

    Her hands have aged and are riddled with arthritis, but have a very special beauty. It’s the very fact that they are gnarled and worn that gives them life.

    They tell a story of life lived and enjoyed.

    Robina Beard’s full story is below.

    She was one of Australia’s first weather girls, and in one of Australia’s first sitcoms (both at GTV9 in Melbourne), but perhaps the role Robina Beard is the most famous for is as Madge in the Palmolive ads.

    ‘You know you’re soaking in it,’ was a phrase we heard on Australian television for 20 years.
    The ads started in 1967, the year that Robina married, and the money that she earned from the ads assisted in her pursuit of a career in theatre and dance, without financial pressures. Robina never actually showed her hands in the ads and the producers would often use a hand model for any close ups.

    The persona of Madge stuck with Robina, and people would always smile when they saw her, often calling her Madge.

    After a number of years of the ad running the advertising industry came under scrutiny, and a rule that you could not claim something you couldn’t prove was introduced. The phrase ‘softens your hands while you do dishes’ was changed to ‘mild on your hands while you do dishes’. Robina was asked to do a manicurists’ course. It took four days and at the end she was given a badge and a certificate that said she was qualified to do nails in 92 countries.

    Robina has done an enormous amount in the area of theatre and dance. She assisted Keith Bain in the creation of the Australian Dance Awards and has been performing and teaching her whole life. After three hip replacements she is still teaching exercises and tap to people of her own age.
    For all her work in Australian theatre and dance Robina recently received an Order of Australia. On the day of the awards presentation her third grandson was born.

    Size: 56cm w x 44cm H
    Edition size: 250