always comes first: Who will turn up to Murdochs
90th birthday? - 7th March 2021
By Andrew Hornery
shaping up as one of the most intriguing guests lists
of the year: which family members will be invited
to celebrate Rupert Murdochs upcoming 90th birthday
with the billionaire expat media mogul?
Murdoch captured in his element: reading one of his
many newspapers at home. CREDIT: INSTAGRAM
even more tantalising, given the endless Machiavellian
machinations within the all-powerful family, is the
prospect of who will actually show up.
James Murdoch be there?
and his wife Kathryn publicly cast shade on Rupert
in January with stinging criticism of one of his most
precious personal possessions - his media empire.
However I have been assured by well placed sources
that they were very much involved in top secret plans
to mark the patriarchs birthday milestone.
theres no denying the couples very public
falling out with the family firm has caused deep,
simmering rifts within various familial ranks, not
least with Murdochs heir apparent, eldest son
have been reports the brothers are no longer on speaking
terms, but others in their orbit say thats not
quite the case. Either way the brothers uneasy
relationship should make for interesting cocktail
banter with the birthday boy.
Murdochs are no strangers to Shakespearean drama when
it comes to family and business: various members have
fallen in and out of favour many times over the years.
Murdoch had harsh words for her brother James during
the phone hacking scandal of 2012. And years before
that Lachlan returned to Sydney after turning his
back on his fathers empire. But in the end,
both he and his sister returned to the fold.
the Murdoch associates I spoke with for todays
column are adamant that despite what may be played
out in the boardroom and in the business press, in
the private confines of the Murdoch family living
room family always comes first.
who spent most of the global pandemic locked down
in England with his fourth wife Jerry Hall, was among
the first to get his COVID vaccine jabs and has since
decamped to his home in California.
was there, at his Moraga Vineyards estate in swanky
Bel Air, that he was preparing to celebrate his 89th
birthday this time last year. That party was cancelled
at the 11th hour as the seriousness of the pandemic
became clear, even while some of the Murdoch medias
most vocal commentators were still arguing the health
crisis was a beat-up.
sprawling estate is where Murdoch is likely to spend
his 90th birthday on Thursday. But I can reveal a
much bigger celebration for the media titan is being
planned in California for later in the year once the
COVID-19 vaccination rollout is more advanced in the
have been assured by sources close to the family it
is an all-in situation for the big party
including the James Murdochs. Each of Ruperts
six children have been heavily involved in the planning,
including his only Australian-based child, his first
born, daughter Prudence, who is unable to be in California
on Thursday because of the international travel ban.
her adult half-siblings Lachlan, James and Elisabeth,
Prudence has largely lived her life out of the spotlight,
preferring the relative obscurity of home in Sydney
and lengthy stays at her country estate in the New
England tablelands with her husband Alisdair MacLeod
that has not always been the case.
in 2008 she and her adult siblings gave extraordinarily
candid interviews - with their fathers blessing
- to author Michael Wolff. What they shared formed
some of the more illuminating chapters in Wolffs
controversial biography of Rupert Murdoch.
was portrayed in Wolffs book as the truth
the time Murdoch was a spritely 77-year-old with a
penchant for home dye jobs which turned his hair a
dodgy shade of aubergine, which then gradually became
a shade of Orangutan ginger. He was also still married
to his third wife, Wendi Deng, the mother of his two
youngest daughters Grace and Chloe.
told her father: Dad, I understand about dyeing
the hair and the age thing. Just go somewhere proper.
What you need is very light highlights.
then revealed to Wolff: But he insists on doing
it over the sink because he doesnt want anybody
to know. Well, hello! Look in the mirror. Look at
the pictures in the paper.
was a rare insight into the humanity - and vanity
- of a man many believe to be anything other than
ordinary flesh and blood.
Wolff interviewed Lachlan Murdoch, the then 36-year-old
told the author somewhat drolly: Dont
you know my dads never going to die?
to Instagram, it has been Ruperts youngest daughters
who have offered glimpses into the private, and comparatively
ordinary, world of the global media mogul as he enters
posts show a man of advanced years, a doting dad who
was cuddling a new puppy on Grace Murdochs social
media feed last week.
a far cry from the much-feared and all-powerful king
maker who has dominated headlines for decades.
Sydney Morning Herald)