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Rupert Murdoch’s bride-to-be has Bay Area ties

Rupert Murdoch has been married four times already. | Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is apparently engaged to be married for the fifth time—and his soon-to-be-wife has Bay Area connections. The 92-year-old Murdoch is set to wed Ann Lesley Smith, 66, a model, singer-songwriter, radio journalist and reportedly a former police chaplain, according to other media outlets.

Other media also identifies Smith as having worked as a Christian minister for the Marin County Sheriff's Office and the Manteca Police Department. The Standard was not able to confirm Smith's role as a former SFPD chaplain or Christian minister for any law enforcement, had been widely reported. The Standard was able to confirm that a chaplain named Ann Lesley-Smith serves with several Marin County police departments.

Murdoch is the chairman of Fox Corporation and executive chairman of News Corporation, putting him in control of Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, book publisher Harper Collins and many other media properties. Gossip columnist Cindy Adams broke the story in the New York Post—another Murdoch holding—reporting that he proposed to Smith in New York on St. Patrick’s Day

Smith was married to John B. Huntington, a prominent attorney and philanthropist descended from the 19th century San Francisco family that, along with the Stanfords, Crockers and Hopkinses, constituted the “Big Four” of California railroad tycoons. The historic and soon-to-reopen Huntington Hotel on Nob Hill is named after the same family, whose mansion was across the street.

Smith's first marriage was said to be an unhappy one, and she later married country singer Chester Smith, with whom she cut a record shortly before his death in 2008.

Having divorced Jerry Hall last summer after six years of marriage, the newly eligible Murdoch met Smith at a vineyard he owns in Los Angeles, asking her out two weeks later. Murdoch was previously married to entrepreneur Wendi Deng, journalist Anna Maria Torv and Patricia Booker.

The wedding is reportedly planned for this summer. Perhaps anticipating some of the jabs that people hear when they remarry later in life, Murdoch told Cindy Adams that “we’re both looking forward to spending the second half of our lives together.”

It’s only one of a number of connections that Murdoch and his famously conservative-leaning media enterprises have to the notoriously progressive San Francisco Bay Area. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox host who is engaged to Donald Trump Jr. and was once married to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, was born and raised in the Mission District. Fox News host Tucker Carlson is also a Mission native

With an estimated net worth of $20.8 billion, Murdoch, listed together with his family, was ranked by Forbes as the 76th richest person in the world in 2022.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated Smith had worked as an SFPD chaplain, as widely reported in other media. The Standard has not yet been able to verify this information.

Astrid Kane can be reached at astrid@sfstandard.com