It struck many as defying the natural order of the universe when glamorous 1970s model Jerry Hall, the longtime ex-partner of Mick Jagger, married 85-year-old conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch in March 2016.
But like Vanity Reports, Hall seemed to genuinely love her billionaire husband, despite being “a BBC-loving liberal” and his Fox News having effectively become President Donald Trump’s “de facto state television”. The 25-year-old Hall also seemed to enjoy Murdoch’s company and cared for him during his growing health crises, including spoon-feeding him for months after he suffered a fall on his eldest son’s yacht.
Thus, Hall felt “blindsided” when she received an email from Murdoch in June 2022, telling her, “Unfortunately, I have decided to end our marriage.” She and others close to her wondered: what happened?
The possible answer came in January when Murdoch was pictured vacationing in Barbados with another slender blonde: Ann Lesley Smith, a 66-year-old former dental hygienist, former San Francisco socialite and widow of the late television mogul based in Modesto Chester Smith.
Marriage made in…
Rupert Murdoch is engaged to Ann Lesley Smith.
I am not joking. pic.twitter.com/DBi5pfaNa0
—Joline Gutierrez Krueger (@jolinegkg) March 20, 2023
Hall recognized Ann Lesley Smith from when, a year earlier, they invited her to dinner at their ranch in Carmel, Sherman said. At the time, Smith was dating the ranch manager. She was also a conservative radio host “with QAnon-style politics” who flattered the media mogul that he and Fox News were saving democracy.
Hall then recalled how Smith offered to clean Murdoch’s teeth, Sherman also said. Afterwards, her husband started taking trips alone to Carmel, saying he wanted to spend some one-on-one time with one of his daughters with his third wife Wendi Deng.
Hall concluded that Murdoch had simply moved on, as he had ended previous marriages, Sherman reported. “She was devastated, mad and humiliated,” Hall’s good friend Tom Cashin told Sherman.
Among the humiliations: Hall had to move his belongings off their Bel Air estate within 30 days and relied on Jagger’s security consultant to dismantle the surveillance cameras that were still beaming back to Fox headquarters from his area outside of London, Sherman said.
“On the first day of Lent in February, Hall told friends she made an effigy of Murdoch, tied dental floss around his neck, and burned him on the grill,” Sherman also said.
It’s perhaps some consolation for Hall that Murdoch sent Smith off fairly quickly, just two weeks after announcing their engagement. Her ex-husband stunned the world at the end of March when he announced he was getting married for the fifth time. He said he was ready to take another chance on love with Smith. His proposal came as Fox News faces an existential threat from Dominion Voting System’s $1.6 billion libel lawsuit.
In announcing that Murdoch had called off the engagement, Sherman reported that Smith’s politics and religious views might have been too extreme even for the man who owns Fox News. A source close to Murdoch told Sherman earlier this month that Murdoch had become “increasingly uncomfortable” with Smith’s “outspoken evangelical views.”
On Facebook, she shared a mix of inspirational self-help discussions with Christian nationalism and right-wing conspiracy theories. She also said “Tucker Carlson is a messenger from God, and he said no,” a source told Sherman.
It’s also possible that Murdoch – or people close to him – also grew increasingly uncomfortable with the reports that began circulating about Smith. Details of her personal history were sketchy, including where she was born and raised. But it became known that she had been married at least twice to much older men and that those marriages ended in bitter and protracted legal battles over money.
It’s easy to see how Murdoch’s three adult children from his second marriage wouldn’t want any further complications from Smith as they prepare for an already complicated succession battle over the future of the Murdoch Empire. , Sherman reported. Perhaps Murdoch also did not want to be associated with a woman whose
In several interviews over the past few years, Smith liked to describe herself living a “rags to riches” story that became even more fulfilling when, she said, Jesus and prayer were given new meaning. to his life.
“When you let the Lord take control of your life, you can make it happen,” Smith told the Christian Broadcasting Network. “From the ruins you can arise and let the oil of his anointing be upon you.”
Smith said she found Jesus after surviving a rocky first marriage in the 1980s to John B. Huntington, a scion of one of San Francisco’s most prominent families. They married when she was a 28-year-old dental hygienist, joining the 47-year-old Huntington’s high-society lifestyle, which included a Tiburon estate, philanthropic endeavors, gala openings and a budget. clothing of up to $65,000 per month. .
Smith made headlines at one of the galas when she was involved in “a stampede match” with another socialite on the dance floor of the Fairmont Hotel, The New York Times reported. Smith did not contest the misdemeanor assault and was ordered to donate $3,000 to a shelter for abused women, Reuters reported at the time.
After Smith and Huntington separated in 1989, she launched an unsuccessful court battle to extend spousal support, court records show. She claimed to have suffered from post-traumatic stress due to Huntington’s alleged abuse and alcoholism.
After the divorce, Smith told CBN she had to go on welfare and became suicidal, but found redemption through faith and worked for a time as a street preacher in Marin County. In 1999, she married Michael Carabello, a former percussionist for rock band Santana, but that marriage only lasted a year, The New York Times reported.
At some point, Smith met her second husband, Chester Smith, a former country music star who became wealthy by buying up independent local television stations. He married her, shortly after divorcing his first wife, to whom he had been married for 42 years, according to the Daily Mail. He was 74 at the time, while his new wife was 27 years his junior.
Early in their marriage, Chester and Ann Lesley Smith recorded a country music album together called “Captured in Love.” The album cover shows Smith dressed in a police uniform; she told the Modesto Bee that she met her very devout Christian husband while working as a prison chaplain.
“Captured by Love” Chester Smith’s 2005 album with Ann Lesley Smith… https://t.co/pF99sY2Eop pic.twitter.com/oY6oEnFbYy
— John Blyther 🤖 (@johnblyther) April 5, 2023
That marriage ended with the death of Chester Smith in 2008, but another court battle erupted. The late tycoon’s three adult daughters have gone to court to have Smith removed from his role as executor, claiming their stepmother engaged in ‘elder financial abuse’ and failed to give them the money their father had left them. The case was finally settled.
Smith and Murdoch suggested to the New York Post that their romance didn’t blossom until September, a month after she finalized her divorce from Hall. He said she came to a gathering at his vineyard in Bel Air. He also spoke optimistically about how they would spend the “second half” of their lives together.
“I was very nervous,” Murdoch said of their romance. “I dreaded falling in love, but I knew it would be my last. It is better to be. I am happy.”