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From The Sun, to Wapping and his wives – the moments that made Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch shocked the worlds of media and politics on Thursday by announcing his departure from the helm of his media empire.

The surprise decision to step down as chairman of News Corp and Fox brings to an end an almost seven-decade career wielding influence over the rich and powerful, though Mr Murdoch is likely to retain control in the background.

As his son Lachlan prepares to take over the reins, we look at the key moments that made Rupert Murdoch the world’s best-known media mogul.

Following his father’s death, Murdoch returns to Australia to take over the family newspaper business, which includes the Sunday Mail and The News. Over the coming years he acquires a string of other titles, honing his style of sensationalist journalism focused on scandals, sports and eye-catching headlines.

Murdoch with his second wife Anna Torv
Murdoch with his second wife Anna Torv - Mike McLaren/Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Murdoch marries his first wife Patricia Booker, a former department store model and flight attendant from Melbourne. They divorce 11 years later. In 1967, Murdoch marries Anna Torv, editor of his Daily Mirror newspaper in Sydney.

Murdoch bought The Sun in 1970
Murdoch bought The Sun in 1970 - PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Murdoch enters the UK market with the acquisition of News of the World. A year later he buys The Sun, cementing his control over the tabloid market.

Murdoch bought the New York Post in 1976
Murdoch bought the New York Post in 1976 - Bettmann

Murdoch expands into the US by taking over two dailies in San Antonio, Texas. The following year the tycoon moves to New York and buys the New York Post shortly afterwards. In 2007, he seals his stateside interests with a $5bn deal for Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones.

Murdoch UK papers
Murdoch moves to upmarket newspapers - PA

Murdoch moves into broadsheet titles with the purchase of The Times and The Sunday Times from Canadian press baron Lord Thomson of Fleet.

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The takeover of 20th Century Fox establishes Murdoch’s foothold in the TV and entertainment sector.

More than 6,000 print workers go on strike over Murdoch’s decision to shift production to modern facilities in Wapping. Murdoch pushes ahead with the plan, fires the workers and the strike collapses after a year of protests.

Murdoch buys up a number of book publishing houses before merging them to form HarperCollins.

Murdoch ushers in a new age of TV with the launch of satellite network Sky Television, with early presenters including Andrew Neil and Kay Burley. A year later it merges with a rival to become British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB). In 2018, Murdoch’s effort to take full control of Sky is scuppered by Comcast, which tables a winning $39bn takeover bid in a dramatic blind auction.

Rupert Murdoch fox news
Murdoch launches Fox News - AP Photo/Richard Drew

Murdoch enlists the help of TV bigwig and Richard Nixon ally Roger Ailes to launch Fox News, a news and political commentary network that would later become key to his empire.

Murdoch and Wendi Deng were married for 14 years
Murdoch and Wendi Deng were married for 14 years - STR Tom Rollo/Reuters

Murdoch marries Wendi Deng just 17 days after his divorce from Anna Torv is finalised.

Rupert Murdoch
Murdoch's News of the World is embroiled in the hacking scandal - WARREN ALLOTT

Murdoch and his empire are plunged into the spotlight following revelations that journalists at News of the World hacked the phones of politicians, celebrities, members of the Royal Family and the families of murder victims. Murdoch shuts the News of the World after 168 years and resigns as director of News International.

Murdoch and Jerry Hall
Ex-supermodel Jerry Hall was Murdoch's third wife - REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Murdoch marries Jerry Hall in a star-studded ceremony at St Bride’s church on Fleet Street in London. They divorce in 2022.

The tycoon sells most of his entertainment holdings in 21st Century Fox to Disney for $71bn, but retains control of Fox.

Murdoch announces he will marry fifth wife 66-year-old Ann Lesley Smith, only to call off the engagement two weeks later. He has since begun a relationship with Elena Zhukova, the former mother-in-law of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.

Fox agrees to pay Dominion Voting Systems $787m to settle a defamation lawsuit over false claims made on the network that the company helped to rig the 2020 US presidential election. Shortly after, Murdoch fires controversial prime-time host Tucker Carlson.