Rupert Murdoch: Timeline of the News Corp billionaire’s four marriages

The media tycoon has been divorced four times, while his latest engagement has reportedly been called off

Kate Ng,Ellie Muir
Wednesday 05 April 2023 07:10 BST
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Rupert Murdoch recently announced that he is engaged to girlfriend Ann Lesley Smith.

The billionaire media mogul, who is the executive chairman of News Corp, confirmed on Monday 20 March he will be getting married for the fifth time, just seven months after he ended his marriage to supermodel Jerry Hall.

Murdoch, 92, and Smith, 66, were expected to wed in late summer, until new reports suggest that they have now called off their engagement after two weeks.

On 4 April, Vanity Fair reported that sources close to the 92-year-old media mogul said the couple had “abruptly” called off their engagement, with one source citing Murdoch’s alleged discomfort with Smith’s evangelical views.

It comes after Murdoch abruptly ended his relationship with Hall over email, who is said to have been “heartbroken” and “devastated” over the split.

The businessman, who has a net worth of US$21.7bn as of March 2022, was also previously married to Patricia Booker, Anna Torv, and Wendi Deng.

Here is a timeline of all of Murdoch’s marriages to date:

Patricia Booker, 1956-1967

Booker, a former department store model and flight attendant from Melbourne, was Murdoch’s first wife. They wed in 1956, when Murdoch was 25, and have one child together, a daughter named Prudence.

The pair were married for 11 years and divorced in 1967. Prudence, now 64, is a newspaper executive and a board member of Times Newspapers, a subsidiary of News Corp.

Anna Torv, 1967-1999

Anna Torv, who was known as Anna Murdoch during her marriage to the media mogul, married him in 1967. She is a Glasgow-born former newspaper journalist who met Murdoch while working for his Sydney newspaper, the Daily Mirror.

Australian businessman and media tycoon Rupert Murdoch with his wife, Anna and their baby daughter, Elizabeth, at London Airport in 1968
Australian businessman and media tycoon Rupert Murdoch with his wife, Anna and their baby daughter, Elizabeth, at London Airport in 1968 (Getty Images)

Together, they share three children: Elisabeth, 54, Lachlan, 51, and James, 50. Three months before he announced his separation from Torv in 1998, Murdoch was made a Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great (KSG), a papal honour awarded by the late Pope John Paul II.

Torv and Murdoch were married for 31 years, marking his longest marriage. The couple separated in April 1998 and were divorced two months later. Torv reportedly received a US$1.2bn settlement in assets.

In 2001, Torv told Australian Women’s Weekly that her ex-husband had “behaved badly” and accused him of having an affair with Wendi Deng, who became his third wife. However, it has been reported that Murdoch claimed he met Deng after leaving Torv.

She said: “I thought we had a wonderful, happy marriage. Obviously, we didn’t… I don’t want to get too personal about this… but [he] was extremely hard, ruthless and determined that he was going to do through with [the affair], no matter what I wanted or what I was trying to do to save the marriage. He had no interest in that whatsoever.”

The former couple’s divorce settlement reportedly stipulated “unbreakable terms” to hand down his wealth, with Torv demanding that his assets be placed in trusts for her children and for Prudence.

“If the kids fought hard enough, the whole thing would break down; there is no mechanism against that happening,” the FT reports Murdoch as saying in 2000.

The Independent was unable to contact Torv for comment, and has asked a representative for Murdoch for comment.

Wendi Deng, 1999-2013

Rupert Murdoch (R) and Wendi Deng Murdoch arrives at the Oscars at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 24, 2013
Rupert Murdoch (R) and Wendi Deng Murdoch arrives at the Oscars at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 24, 2013 (Getty Images)

Only 17 days after finalising his divorce from Torv, Murdoch married Deng. They reportedly met two years earlier, at a company party in Hong Kong.

The daughter of a Chinese factory director, Deng was 30 when they married while Murdoch was 68.

She had graduated from Yale School of Management and was a newly appointed vice president of Murdoch’s Star TV. They had two daughters together, Grace, 22, and Chloe, 20.

After 14 years of marriage, Murdoch filed for divorce from Deng in June 2013. A spokesperson for the businessman said the marriage had been irretrievably broken for more than six months at the time of filing.

Shortly after filing for divorce, it was reported that Murdoch’s relationship with former prime minister Tony Blair had broken down over Blair’s close friendship with Deng. The Mail on Sunday reported in November 2013 that Blair and Deng had stayed overnight at Murdoch’s mansion in California without his knowledge, and alleged that the pair had “multiple encounters” in London and New York.

The newspaper stressed it was not making suggestions of any impropriety between Blair and Deng, but quoted a friend of Murdoch as saying: “Rupert Murdoch will have nothing more to do with Tony Blair. Not ever.”

Blair has always denied having an affair with Deng. He has been married to Cherie Blair since 1980.

In a 2016 interview with US Vogue, Deng opened up about co-parenting their two daughters with Murdoch and said he is a “very good father” and is “strict like me”.

Grace and Chloe allegedly became the subject of a family row after Murdoch requested they be given an equal share of the family trusts, which include newspapers, Dow Jones, Fox News, and book publisher Harper Collins, with voting rights, but was met with resistance from Lachlan, James and Elisabeth.

Jerry Hall, 2016-2022

Murdoch announced his engagement for former model Hall in a notice in The Times newspaper on 11 January 2016. Less than two months later, he married her at St Bride’s, Fleet Street, with a reception at Spencer House.

The wedding took place just a week before Murdoch’s 85th birthday, while Hall was 59 at the time.

(REUTERS)

Hall had never been married before tying the knot with Murdoch, but was previously in a long-term relationship with Rolling Stones frontman, Mick Jagger. The pair share four children: Elizabeth, 39, James, 37, Georgia May, 31, and Gabriel, 25.

According to the Daily Mail, Murdoch and Hall began dating in 2015 after being introduced in Australia by one of his sisters and his niece.

After their wedding, the media giant tweeted: “No more tweets for 10 days or ever! Feel like the luckiest AND happiest man in the world.”

But in June 2022, Murdoch abruptly ended his marriage to Hall. The former model had reportedly been waiting in the UK for Murdoch to join her when she received an unexpected email telling her the marriage was over.

The Mail Plus quoted sources as saying that she blamed Murdoch’s children for “souring the marriage” because they “mistrusted her”.

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

Hall filed to formally end the six-year marriage in July 2022 citing “irreconcilable differences”, but reportedly asked Los Angeles Superior Court to cancel the petition without prejudice in August. Shortly after, they reached a divorce settlement. The details have not been made public.

A joint statement released by a lawyer for Murdoch on behalf of the couple read: “Jerry Hall and Rupert Murdoch have finalised their divorce. They remain good friends and wish each other the best for the future.”

The Independent has contacted a representative for Hall and Murdoch for comment.

Ann Lesley Smith

Smith told the Post that they had met in September 2022 at Murdoch’s vineyard in Bel Air, California.

(Getty/Ann Lesley Live/Facebook)

The Independent reported that they made their relationship official when the former San Francisco police chaplain, who is 25 years Murdoch’s junior, attended a Christmas dinner at his home in Mayfair.

The media tycoon, now 92, proposed to her with an Asscher-cut diamond solitaire ring on St Patrick’s Day (Friday 17 March). It comes just seven months after he finalised his divorce settlement with Hall.

He told the Post: “I dreaded falling in love – but I knew this would be my last. It better be. I’m happy.”

The marriage, which the couple said was to take place in the summer, would have been Murdoch’s fifth.

On 4 April, Vanity Fair reported that sources close to the 92-year-old media mogul said the couple had “abruptly” called off their engagement, with one source citing Murdoch’s alleged discomfort with Smith’s evangelical views.

The Independent has contacted a representative for Murdoch for comment.

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