Rupert Murdoch said Ann Lesley Smith would be his 'last.' Now the engagement is off

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., listens as U.S. President Barack Obama, not pictured, speaks at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council annual meeting at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. Obama said the U.S. can cut the deficit and spur economic growth at the same time, and that short-term deficits aren't the nation's primary fiscal concern. Photographer: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., has called off his engagement to Ann Lesley Smith just weeks after proposing. (Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Rupert Murdoch is back on the market.

It was a fleeting love story between the 92-year-old media mogul and the 66-year-old dental-hygienist-turned-radio host and prison chaplain Ann Lesley Smith. A source close to Murdoch confirmed to The Times that the engagement has been called off.

He proposed mere weeks ago, on St. Patrick’s Day in New York City, then gushed over his engagement to the New York Post, saying he “dreaded falling in love,” but knew this would be his last. “It better be,” he said. “I’m happy.”

Murdoch split from fourth wife, Jerry Hall, in August 2022, just a month before reportedly meeting Smith at his winery and vineyard in Bel-Air. In January, the whirlwind romance was on display when they were photographed beachside in Barbados by the Daily Mail. And less than a month before Murdoch popped the question, the Wall Street Journal reported that he signed on to purchase a 6,500-square-foot, full-floor co-op in the Hampshire House building, overlooking Central Park South. On March 17, Murdoch asked Smith to be his wife, presenting her with an Asscher-cut diamond solitaire.

“For us both it’s a gift from God,” Smith told the Post.

“I’m a widow 14 years,” she continued. “Like Rupert, my husband was a businessman. Worked for local papers, developed radio and TV stations and helped promote Univision. So I speak Rupert’s language. We share the same beliefs."

Murdoch has declined to comment, but a source close to the media titan told Vanity Fair that the billionaire had become “increasingly uncomfortable” with Smith’s “outspoken evangelical views.”

According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, Smith’s first marriage to John B. Huntington, an attorney whom she said was “a descendant of one of California’s pioneering railroad families,” allegedly turned abusive, and Smith was left penniless and homeless when they divorced.

She was on welfare and turned to modeling and then Jesus after an event coordinator gave her the evangelical book “Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?”

“The Lord gave me thirst and a hunger for Him, and I actually replaced the things of the world with the Scriptures,” she told CBN. “As I began to walk with God, the things of the world just seemed pointless to me.”

She began volunteering as a police chaplain, and then met country-western singer and media mogul Chester Smith, whom she married and recorded a 13-track country album with in 2005. The cover of "Captured by Love" features the two posed against a Rolls-Royce, Chester with his foot on the front bumper, holding a guitar, and Ann Lesley wearing her police chaplain uniform. She became a widow when Chester died in 2008 at age 78.

“When you let the Lord take control of your life, you can make it,” she told CBN. “Out of the ruins you can rise and let the oil of his anointing just be all over you.”

After her husband died in 2008, the chaplain-turned-singer reportedly battled her stepdaughters over Chester Smith’s multimillion-dollar fortune. In court documents obtained by Vanity Fair, one stepdaughter accused her father's widow of “financial elder abuse.”

The dispute was settled in 2010, and Smith admitted no wrongdoing.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.