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Marrying Rupert Murdoch is fraught with uncertainty. What we know about his fiancee

Rupert Murdoch announces his engagement

Just eight months after finalising his divorce to American model Jerry Hall, News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch is getting married for the fifth time.

This time, it’s to a former model and San Francisco police chaplain.

Widow Ann Lesley Smith, 66, met Murdoch at his Moraga Bel Air vineyard in Los Angeles in September as the annual grape harvest got under way – and they apparently hit it off.

The Australian-born media mogul said he dreaded falling in love, but a “nervous” Mr Murdoch, now 92, called Ms Smith a fortnight later.

Now, they’re looking forward to spending the “second half of our lives together”.

The proposal

Sharing details with his New York Post, the billionaire publisher and broadcaster revealed he personally selected and presented an Asscher-cut (square-cut with cropped corners) diamond solitaire to the Northern California-based Ms Smith on St Patrick’s Day in New York City.

“I’m one-fourth Irish,” he said.

“I was very nervous. I dreaded falling in love, but I knew this would be my last. It better be. I’m happy.”

A personal shopper has already been allocated, and “friends are scouring shops and designers” for her gown with plans to spend their time between California, Britain, Montana and New York.

According to Forbes, Mr Murdoch’s media empire is worth $US17.2 billion ($25.7 billion), and holds stakes in Fox Corp, the parent company of Fox News, The Times of London, News Corp and The Wall Street Journal.

He controls News Corp and Fox Corp through a Nevada family trust that holds a 40 per cent stake in voting shares of each company.

‘Not my first rodeo’

It’s neither Mr Murdoch nor Ms Smith’s “first rodeo” down the aisle.

He has been married four times, to Hall (six years), before that Wendi Deng Murdoch (14 years), Anna Murdoch Mann (32 years, with whom he shares Elisabeth, Lachlan and James) and Patricia Booker (11 years).

He’s also no stranger to divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences” among the legal reasons for moving on, and on one occasion, marrying Ms Deng just 17 days after signing his divorce settlement from Ms Mann.

The Post – which broke the story about the boss’s impending nuptials “in the northern hemisphere summer” – reported Ms Smith said the union was “a gift from God”.

A Christian minister for the Manteca Police Department and the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, Ms Smith also worked as a journalist and at one time was host of the KFIV Ann Lesley Live radio show.

“I’m a widow 14 years. Like Rupert, my husband was a businessman. Worked for local papers, developed radio and TV stations and helped promote Univision,” she said.

“I speak Rupert’s language. We share the same beliefs.

“In perspective, it’s not my first rodeo. Getting near 70 means being in the last half. I waited for the right time. Friends are happy for me.”

Ms Smith was married to country singer and TV executive Chester Smith, who died in 2008.

It is not yet known whether a pre-nuptial agreement will be signed between Mr Murdoch and Ms Smith.

‘Rags to riches to redemption’

According to a 2020 write-up on Ms Smith in the Rotary Club of Beverly Hills newsletter, the fashion model left a “fairy-tale jet-set lifestyle with the rich and famous” after a near-fatal car accident to work for the San Francisco police as a chaplain.

Headlined Rags to Riches to Redemption, it revealed Ms Smith is a cancer survivor.

She started Angels All Over, a foundation “that supports those who have suffered setbacks providing counselling and financial support to the homeless”.

She also established Last Chance Ranch, “a ‘remapping’ program that helps wayward men to reach higher ground regardless of life’s obstacles, instructing to use personal setbacks as launching pads”.

Described as a dynamic speaker, Ms Smith was described by the Rotary Club as someone who “captivates audiences with her candid, bold, inspiring style, making people feel she is speaking to them personally as she shares her highly unlikely ‘private collection’ of her life”.

The snapshot also says her ranch and commercial vineyard was set up to “train participants from rehab groups about viticulture to improve their job skills”.

She was married to Smith for three years before he died. He was a country singer, and radio and television executive who owned a TV broadcast company, Sainte Television Group.

Fifth time the charm

Mr Murdoch will be in his 90s when he ties the knot for the fifth time, but his first marriage was at the tender age of 25.

Patricia Booker

In 1956 Mr Murdoch married Patricia Booker, a former flight attendant with whom he had a daughter, Prudence (Prue). They divorced in 1967.

Ms Booker told Mr Murdoch’s biographer Michael Wolff in a Guardian interview in 2008: “I’ve always been low key and not many people know about me, and I like that. I just love that.”

anna murdoch mann

Rupert Murdoch and his then-wife Anna in 1982, leaving the Boston Herald American. Photo: Getty

Anna Murdoch Mann

In 1967, Mr Murdoch married his second wife Anna Torv, a Scottish-born journalist with whom he had three children: Elisabeth, Lachlan and James.

They divorced in June 1999 after 32 years of marriage.

She gave a wide-ranging interview to the Australian Women’s Weekly in 2001 about their marriage and how it unravelled.

Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng in November 2013. Photo: Getty

Wendi Deng Murdoch

Mr Murdoch was 68 when he married his third wife, Chinese-born 30-year-old Wendi Deng, on June 25, 1999 aboard his yacht Morning Glory in New York Harbour.

Ms Deng was a Yale School of Management graduate and a newly appointed vice-president of the Murdoch-owned Star TV in Hong Kong when they married.

They had two children together – Grace, born in 2001, and Chloe, born in 2003.

The Washington Post reported “It was during that … marriage that Murdoch broke up the terms of the trust that controls his family’s media empire to make space for his two daughters with Deng.”

Mr Murdoch filed for divorce in June 2013, saying the marriage had “broken down irretrievably”. Ms Deng was said to be “blindsided” by the filing, according to Vanity Fair.

In a 2018 Vogue cover story, Ms Deng revealed she and Mr Murdoch continued to parent as a team after their highly publicised divorce.

“Rupert’s a very good father,” she told Vogue.

“Strict like me. We attend school conferences together. We both make sure they learn Chinese, do well in math. We make decisions together about how they use social media. We never want them to say, ‘Well, Mommy said this’ or ‘Daddy said that’.”

rupert murdoch

Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall on their wedding day in 2016. Photo: Getty

Jerry Hall

At a centuries-old mansion in central London in 2016, Mr Murdoch and his fourth wife Hall were married in a low-key ceremony.

He was 84, she was 59, and the civil ceremony was held at Spencer House in St James’s Place on March 4.

According to Mr Murdoch, it marked the beginning of a new, exciting chapter for the Melbourne-born billionaire.

Hours later, he tweeted: “No more tweets for ten days or ever! Feel like the luckiest AND happiest man in world.”

They spent their six-year marriage between homes in the US and UK, having bought Holmwood, an 18th-century house and estate in the English village of Binfield Heath.

Hall was the long-time partner of Mick Jagger, with whom she had Georgia May, Lizzie, James and Gabriel.

Last year, Hall was blindsided after allegedly receiving an email from Mr Murdoch that he wanted to separate.

The Guardian reported multiple sources suggested Hall had clashed with Mr Murdoch’s children from his previous marriages.

In August, their divorce was finalised and she received a multimillion-dollar payout including an Oxfordshire mansion.

Topics: News Corp
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