Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng: Their histories
Rupert Murdoch and his Chinese-born third wife, Wendi Deng, married on June 25, 1999, just 17 days after his divorce from Anna Maria Torv, to whom he was married for 32 years.
Rupert Murdoch married his first wife, a flight attendant named Patricia Booker, in 1956 and they had a daughter, Prudence, in 1958 before divorcing in 1967. That same year, Rupert Murdoch married Anna Maria Torv, a journalist working for The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, and they went on to have three children: Elisabeth, Lachland and James.
After three decades, Rupert Murdoch and Anna Maria Torv divorced in 1999, with Anna receiving a record settlement of $1.7 billion in assets. She blamed their divorce on Rupert Murdoch’s affair with Wendi Deng, an employee of his Hong Kong-based company Star TV, and “his determination to continue with that. I thought we had a wonderful, happy marriage. Obviously, we didn’t,’ she said, calling him ‘extremely hard, ruthless”.
The marriage to Rupert Murdoch was not the first for Wendi Deng either; her tangled love life was revealed by the Wall Street Journal in 2000.
Growing up as the daughter of a factory worker in Guangzhou in southern China, Wendi Deng’s childhood was a far cry from the opulence she enjoys today. She lived in a modest home but worked hard at school, where she was a champion volleyball player.
While studying at a medical college, Wendi Deng met an American couple, Jake and Joyce Cherry, who had been temporarily relocated to the country to work on a factory. She learned English from the couple and they ultimately sponsored her to travel to the U.S. when she was 19 to take classes at California State University.
But Joyce Cherry soon learned Wendi Deng was having an affair with Jake Cherry, who was three decades her senior, the Wall Street Journal reported. She ordered the girl out of her home and Jake Cherry followed closely behind. He divorced his wife and married Wendi Deng, who was 22.
But they too divorced after Jake Cherry learned Wendi Deng was spending time with a man named David Wolf.
After achieving her MBA from Yale, Wendi Deng joined the Murdoch-owned Star TV in Hong Kong as an intern in 1996.
While his company has claimed that Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng met after his separation from his second wife, Anna, sources told the New York Times last year that they met months before in a question session at Star TV.
It was there Wendi Deng stood up and asked: “Why is your China strategy so bad?”
But Wendi Deng was not satisfied with Rupert Murdoch’s answer and after the meeting, she spoke to him further and they discussed media and business, the New York Times reported.
In a biography, Rupert Murdoch explained that he met her “casually once or twice” during meetings at Star TV. He claimed their first date was in June 1998 in London, when Wendi Deng traveled to the city with colleagues from Star.
“I was a recently separated, lonely man, and I said, <<Let’s go out to dinner one night>>, and I talked her into staying in London a couple of extra days – and that was the start of it,” Rupert Murdoch said.
The couple’s wedding ceremony, attended by 81 guests, took place aboard a yacht in the New York Harbor. They went on to have two children: Grace, born in 2001, and Chloe, born in 2003.
The New York Times profile piece noted that while Rupert Murdoch transformed following their marriage – hair dye, Prada suits, workouts – Wendi Deng was also very much changed.
While Wendi Deng once never wore makeup and would try to get dresses on the cheap, she was soon traveling around the world with her husband, stocking up on expensive homeware and bedecking herself in designer gowns and jewelry. Friends noted that she has remained the same brash, confident person throughout, however.
Wendi Deng and Rupert Murdoch’s relationship has not been entirely smooth. In 2006, Rupert Murdoch declared in a television interview that his daughters with Wendi Deng would not have the same voting rights as his children from previous marriages.
His wife was enraged and friends told the Times Wendi Deng threatened to leave him – but they worked through it.
The piece noted that the couple were living “largely separate lives” as Rupert Murdoch struggled to deal with the News of the World phone hacking scandal in London.
Wendi Deng’s defensiveness of her husband became apparent when she famously protected him from a pie-throwing activist during a hacking hearing in London two years ago.
Wendi Deng, showing her athleticism that harked back to her volleyball days, lunged at the attacker to smack him across the head.
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