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The many wives of Rupert Murdoch

Billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch is to marry again at the age of 92 after announcing his engagement to wealthy radio host Ann Lesley Smith.

Seven months after meeting Smith at his Bel Air vineyard, Murdoch, the “unlikely romantic”, proposed to the widow of country music singer Chester Smith, said the Evening Standard. 

Ann Lesley Smith, 66, is used to the limelight having worked in a number of high-profile jobs, including as a Christian minister for the Manteca Police Department in California and as host of Ann Lesley Live on the state’s radio station KFIV.

News of the nuptials comes just eight months after Murdoch’s divorce from Jerry Hall, to whom he was married for six years. The News Corp and Fox Corporation owner revealed his wedding plans in an interview with one of his own papers, the New York Post. He said: “We’re both looking forward to spending the second half of our lives together.”

It might have been a “rather optimistic statement” that “anticipates a longevity which would be more extraordinary than anything else in his already extraordinary life story”, said columnist Alison Boshoff in the Daily Mail. But the new romance has “clearly left him feeling younger than springtime”, she added.

The Week takes a look at the previous four marriages of the businessman who, in the words of the Evening Standard, “falls in and out of love at a rate rivalled only by King Henry VIII”.

Patricia Booker (1956-1967)

Murdoch met his first wife, Patricia Booker, when he was 25. Not much is known of Booker, who was a “beautiful blonde” from Melbourne, according to Vanity Fair, and worked as a flight attendant and department-store model.

In their 11 years of marriage they had one daughter, Prudence, who until last year was a board member of Times Newspapers, a subsidary of News Corp. 

Anna Torv (1967-1998)

Murdoch and Torv with their daughter Elisabeth

Chris Ware/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Glasgow-born former reporter met Murdoch while working at his Sydney-based newspaper, the Daily Mirror. 

She had requested an interview with the media mogul. “He was like a whirlwind coming into the room. It was very seductive,” she recalled during a 2001 interview for Australian Woman’s Weekly. Murdoch has “also spoken of his instant attraction to her”, said the Evening Standard, suggesting that – according to the paper – “her skill as a reporter was not on his mind”. 

The pair were married for 31 years, his longest marriage, during which time the couple had three children: Elisabeth, Lachlan and James and Lachlan, the heir apparent to Murdoch’s media empire. 

The couple separated in April 1998, after accusations that Murdoch had cheated on Torv with Wendi Deng, a “dazzling” 29-year-old intern at the Murdoch-owned Hong Kong TV station, Star TV. The divorce left Torv with a “cool” alimony payment of $1.7bn, added the paper.

Wendi Deng (1999-2013)

Murdoch and Deng in 1999, the year they married

David Lefranc/Kipa/Sygma via Getty Images

Murdoch first met Deng at a Star TV staff meeting in Hong Kong, where “if legend is to be true”, said the Standard, she asked her future husband: “Why is your business strategy in China so bad?”

Two years later and only 17 days after divorcing his second wife, Murdoch married Deng, the daughter of engineers from remote eastern China.

Thirty-seven years younger than Murdoch, Deng graduated from Yale School of Management and was appointed vice-president of Star TV after her marriage to Murdoch. During their 14 years of marriage they had two children, Grace and Chloe, who attend Yale and Stanford respectively.  

The couple’s marriage ended after rumours of a relationship between Deng and their daughter Grace’s godfather, former British prime minister Tony Blair. Both parties have stringently denied the claims. 

Jerry Hall (2016-2022)

Murdoch and Hall on their wedding day

Karwai Tang/WireImage

In 2016, just before his 85th birthday, Murdoch married the 59-year-old former supermodel Jerry Hall in a “low-key” wedding at St Bride’s church on Fleet Street, central London, according to The Economic Times. 

Hall, whose heyday was in the 70s and 80s, had been the long-time partners of the Rolling Stones’ frontman Mick Jagger, with whom she had four children.

In the summer of 2022, Murdoch abruptly ended their six-year marriage via email, informing Hall that “any further communication would be conducted through lawyers”, said the Daily Mail. 

The paper said tensions had arisen between Hall and Murdoch’s children during the pandemic. A source told the paper that they “mistrusted” Hall. She, meanwhile, blamed the children for “souring the marriage”. 

Hall was reportedly “devastated” by the sudden end to their marriage. A source told the Mail: “Everyone feels sorry for her about how it has worked out but nobody is more sorry than Jerry because she honestly loves him still.”

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