Meet The Murdochs!*

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News Corp (NWS) chairman Rupert Murdoch has six children by three wives, two living sisters, one deceased sister, a 100-year-old mother, and a father who died in 1952.

Click here to meet the Murdochs →

To learn more about Rupert’s family, we spoke to his biographer, Michael Wolff, author of The Man Who Owns The News.

Here’s the first story you need to hear to know how the Murdoch family works: During the recession of 1990 and 1991, Rupert Murdoch promised his then-wife, Anna Torv Murdoch, that as soon as he got the company through the mess he would finally begin to retire.

That didn’t happen, and in 1999, the couple divorced. The same year, Rupert married a young News Corp executive named Wendi Deng, with whom he eventually had two more children.

The new happy family faced a problem. When Rupert divorced, he agreed to leave his News Corp voting shares to a trust that would be controlled by his four children — the Murdoch Family Trust. He also agreed to Anna’s stipulation that no one could be admitted to the trust — not even new children.

Wendi could not live with this arrangement. So a new one was agreed to. Rupert paid each of his four adult children $150 million. Suddenly, Wendi’s kids were allowed into the Murdoch Family Trust — though they will remain without voting participation.

What, that’s not how your family works?

Meet the Murdochs:

  • Keith Murdoch — The Newspaperman Father
  • Elisabeth Murdoch — The 100-Year-Old Mother
  • Rupert’s Sisters Back Home
  • Patricia Murdoch — The First, Forgotten Wife
  • Prudence Murdoch — The Australian Daughter
  • Anna Torv Murdoch Mann — The Wife Who Begat Fox News
  • Elisabeth Murdoch — The Independent Daughter
  • Lachlan Murdoch — The Dependent Son
  • James Murdoch — The Second Son And First Heir To The Empire
  • Wendi Deng — The Third Wife, The Negotiator

Click here to meet the Murdochs →

Note: Michael Wolff tells us we “really got a lot of that stuff I told you wrong,” but won’t tell us what, exactly. He suggests we read his book.

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title=”Keith Murdoch — The Newspaper Man Father”
content=”Running the largest newspaper company in Australia, Rupert’s father Keith was the the most famous and powerful newspaper man in Australia. He owned two papers on his own. When he died deeply in debt in 1952 the family inherited both and sold one for taxes.”
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title=”Elisabeth Murdoch — Rupe’s Mother”
content=”Rupert’s mother, neé Elisabeth Joy Greene, is still alive at age 100. She married Keith Murdoch at age 19, when he was 42.”
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title=”Rupert’s Sisters Back Home”
content=”Rupert Murdoch’s only siblings were sisters Helen, Anne and Janet. Helen died in 2004.

From Keith Murdoch’s death until 1992, Rupert, his mother and his three sisters all owned equal shares in News Corporation. Then Rupert forced the rest of his immediate family out, paying them a total of $600 million.

Says Wolfe, ‘Rupert said ‘This is ridiculous, I’ve built this company, I do all the work, I need to pass the company to my children.”

One of Rupert’s nephews continues to be upset over the arrangement.”
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title=”Patricia Murdoch — The First, Forgotten Wife”
content=”Rupert has been married three times. His first wife was named Patricia. She met Rupert when she was an intern — called a ‘cadet’ — at one of his papers. Tasked with writing a profile about Rupert for an in-house magazine, she went to interview him and that was it.

When she wasn’t an intern, Patricia was stewardess and a department store model. Rupert’s family — one of the most famous families in Australia — disapproved of this marriage. It lasted from 1956 to 1967.”
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title=”Prudence Murdoch — The Australian Daughter”
content=”Prudence MacLeod is Rupert’s oldest daughter, and his only child from the first marriage. Living in Sydney, she’s married to a a senior executive in News Corp’s Australian operation.

Prudence is the only adult child who is not involved in the company. She never went to college and was never considered a potential heir.

Wolff says none of this is because Pru — as he calls her — isn’t smart. More likely, it’s do with Prudence being a female who grew up while Rupert was still living in Australia and not New York.

Prudence has a reputation for being shy with the media, so when Wolff asked Rupert if he could interview her for his book, the mogul essentially said, ‘Don’t expect much.’

So it was a surprise when Wolff knocked her door and she opened it, saying, ‘My father says I can tell you anything.’ The biographer and Rupert’s first daughter spent the next two days talking.

Now Wolff is convinced that of all the children, Prudence is the closest to her father. ‘She’s not involved in company politics and so she’s very forthright with her father,’ he says.”
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title=”Anna Torv Murdoch Mann — The Second Wife”
content=”Anna Torv married Rupert Murdoch in 1969. Wolff is convinced it is due to her influence that Rupert became the right-wing conservative who started Fox News.

‘An ideal, classic corporate wife,’ according to the biographer, Anna was almost as instrumental within News Corp itself, serving on its board until the 1999 divorce.

The couple split for two main reasons. The first was Wendi Deng, Rupert’s third wife. The second was a broken promise.

When the economy fell apart in 1990 and 1991, Rupert worked like mad to get the company through it. He promised Anna then that when it was all over, yes, they could finally retire to Florida. We know that didn’t happen.”
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title=”Elisabeth Murdoch — The Independent Daughter”
content=”Elisabeth Murdoch — Rupert’s second child and the first by his second wife– lives in London, where she owns and operates a television production company called Shine. It’s the largest independent producer of television shows in the world, known for hits like ‘The Office’ and ‘Ugly Betty.’

She’s married to a man named Matthew Freud, who is supposed to be the most famous PR man in London.

A Vassar grad, Elisabeth had all the opportunities Prudence did not. She joined News Corp at a very young age and her father gave her all sorts of responsibilities. But Wolff says he also constantly looked over her shoulder. Rival News Corp executives made sure to make her feel as unwelcome as possible.

She soon quit. She’s now the most independently successful of all Rupert’s children.”
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title=”Lachlan Murdoch — The Dependent Son”
content=”Like his sister Elisabeth, Rupert’s oldest son Lachlan joined News Corp at an early age.

Though at one point he was considered his father’s successor, he’s no longer with News Corp. He hated his father’s control and the company’s bruising internal politics.

Now he lives in Sydney, married to a famous model.

At one point during his time with the company, Lachlan oversaw Australian media operations and oversaw them well. Wolff says that people in the family hope he’ll return to some version of that role some day.

He almost did 18 months or so ago, as he moved to close a multi-billion dollar portfolio of Australian media assets. The highly-leveraged deal fell through when the debt markets collapsed. Lachlan was crushed; his father was not.”
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title=”James Murdoch — The Heir To The Empire”
content=”Rupert’s second son and fourth child, James, is now the undisputed heir to the News Corporation empire.

Wolff drives at how he got there in a recent post to Newser:

Both of James’s siblings who worked at News Corp–his older sister Elisabeth, and older brother Lachlan–balked at being under their father’s relentless thumb and at the side of someone who never listened to them. James’s way of getting out from under is to out Murdoch Murdoch–his father listens to him because he says exactly (actually, rather more articulately) what his father would say. (One reason why James and his brother are so often at odds–Lachlan thinks his brother is a total suck-up.)

James, in a way that seems to startle even his father, has elevated Murdochness to cultishness. To be a Murdoch, in James’s version, is to believe in certain things and to behave in certain ways. It’s a mafia-type thing: The most grievous sin is to go against the family.

It is, too, an ordinary family-type thing. Murdoch clearly favours his oldest son, Lachlan–who has pulled away. The younger son has stepped into the breach–willing to do anything to please the old man.
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title=”Wendi Deng — The Third Wife, The Negotiator”
content=”Wendi Deng — Chinese immigrant, mother to Grace and Chloe, powerful News Corp exec — is Rupert’s third and current wife. People say she’s liberalized him.

Wolff portrays her a someone who is exceedingly ambitious and knows how to get what she wants.

She came to the country without any English as a nanny for an American couple she met in China. Soon, that couple broke up and she married the husband. That marriage lasted about long enough for her to get a green card.

Then Wendi went to Yale on a scholarship and landed a job with News Corp in China. During one of Rupert’s visits to the country, his usual translator failed to show and she stepped in. Romance blossomed.

According to Wolff, Rupert paid his other four children $150 million each so that they would agree to include Wendi’s children into the Murdoch Family Trust, which will inherit Rupert’s wealth upon his death.”
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title=”That’s All For The Murdochs… Also Don’t Miss…”
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