Wendi Deng Murdoch is the wife and soon to be the ex-wife of Rupert Murdoch – one of the richest men in the world.
Wendi Deng is a businesswoman, mother of two and Yale graduate, but perhaps her biggest claim to fame involves a pie made from shaving foam. Wendi Deng – the third wife of media mogul Rupert Murdoch – slapped a man who was trying to throw the pie into her husband’s face during a British parliamentary hearing into the News International phone-hacking scandal.
The incident was televised and her fame spread, even back to her native China.
It also went some way to improving her image, as gossip magazines had previously labeled 44-year-old Wendi Deng a “gold-digger” for her marriage with the 82-year-old Rupert Murdoch. The “trophy wife” became the “tiger wife” almost overnight.
Wendi Deng and Rupert Murdoch married in 1999. They have two daughters together, 11-year-old Grace and 9-year-old Chloe, and lived in a $44 million Manhattan penthouse, with many other palatial homes around the world.
It’s a long way from Wendi Deng’s childhood in the eastern Chinese city of Xuzhou.
She was born Deng Wenge – literally “Cultural Revolution” Deng – which she changed to Wendi as a teenager.
Wendi Deng’s father was the director of a factory, and initially she seemed destined to become a doctor, attending medical school in Guangzhou.
But plans changed when, at the age of 18, Wendi Deng met an American couple, Jake and Joyce Cherry.
Joyce Cherry started teaching Wendi Deng English language, and in 1988 the Cherrys sponsored her to get a student visa to study in California.
In 1990, Jake Cherry left his wife to marry Wendi Deng, but less than three years later they divorced.
After a stint working in a California restaurant Wendi Deng was accepted by Yale University to study for an MBA.
Wendi Deng’s connection with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp began when she was given an intern position at Star Television, a Hong Kong satellite TV service which is part of Murdoch’s vast media empire.
Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng met at a cocktail party, and were married two years later – weeks after his divorce from Anna Maria Torv.
That divorce was one of the most expensive in history: Anna Maria Torv received a $1.7 billion settlement.
Wendi Deng is unlikely to receive as much money, as she signed a pre-nuptial agreement, and aides at News Corp have been quick to say that the divorce will not have a big effect on the running of Rupert Murdoch’s empire, which is reportedly worth $9.4 billion.
But she is still likely to receive a sizeable fortune, and she’s also an influential News Corp employee in her own right, playing an important role in the organization’s growth into China, and chief of strategy for MySpace’s China operation.
The Wall Street Journal, one of the many media outlets that Rupert Murdoch owns, once described her as News Corp’s “de-facto diplomat” in China.
Wendi Deng’s also produced her own film, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, about two foot-bound Chinese children.
While the couple were said to have spent some considerable time apart, their relationship was reportedly strengthened during the allegations of phone hacking that engulfed parts of the Murdoch empire in 2011.
No more so than when Wendi Deng made global headlines as a result of the shaving foam pie incident.
So the announcement of the end of the marriage caught some by surprise. Michael Wolff, Rupert Murdoch’s biographer, told The Daily Telegraph he was “absolutely gobsmacked”.
Rupert Murdoch’s spokespeople have declined to comment on the reasons for the divorce.