Patricia Booker was the first wife of Australian-American media mogul Rupert Murdoch. She married him in 1956, when he was a young newspaper owner in Australia. They had one daughter, Prudence, who later joined her father’s business empire. However, their marriage ended in 1967, after 11 years of ups and downs. Patricia Booker then remarried a Swiss jet-setter named Freddie Maeder, and lived a partying lifestyle, often leaving her daughter behind. She died in 2000, but the cause of her death was never revealed to the public. What happened to Patricia Booker, and why was her death so secretive?
Patricia Booker’s Early Life and Marriage to Rupert Murdoch
Patricia Booker was born in 1928 in Melbourne, Australia. She was a former shop assistant and flight attendant, who met Rupert Murdoch at a party in 1953. They fell in love and got married three years later, in a lavish ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne. Patricia Booker became the wife of a rising star in the Australian media industry, as Rupert Murdoch inherited his father’s newspaper business and expanded it to other states and countries. She accompanied him to London, where he bought The News of the World and The Sun, and to New York, where he acquired The New York Post and HarperCollins. She also supported him in his political and social ambitions, as he befriended influential figures like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. According to sitename People, Patricia Booker was a “beautiful, charming, and intelligent” woman, who enjoyed the high society and the glamour of being a media tycoon’s wife.
Patricia Booker’s Divorce and Remarriage
However, Patricia Booker’s marriage to Rupert Murdoch was not a happy one. They had frequent arguments and disagreements, as Rupert Murdoch was often away from home, pursuing his business ventures and affairs. He also wanted more children, but Patricia Booker had difficulties conceiving after giving birth to Prudence. In 1967, they decided to divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. Patricia Booker received a settlement of $1.2 million, which was a large sum at the time, but a fraction of Rupert Murdoch’s wealth. She also got custody of Prudence, who was 9 years old then. Rupert Murdoch soon remarried Anna Torv, a journalist who worked for his newspapers, and had three more children with her.
Patricia Booker also remarried in 1969, to Freddie Maeder, a Swiss businessman and playboy, who was 17 years younger than her. They moved to Geneva, Switzerland, where they lived a lavish and hedonistic lifestyle, attending parties and jetting around the world. According to sitename Vanity Fair, Patricia Booker began a “partying” life with Maeder, often leaving Prudence behind. Prudence grew up feeling neglected and abandoned by her mother, and became closer to her father and stepmother. Patricia Booker and Freddie Maeder divorced in 1984, after 15 years of marriage.
Patricia Booker’s Death and Legacy
Patricia Booker died in 2000, at the age of 72. However, the cause of her death was never made public, and the details of her funeral and burial were kept secret. Her death was only announced by Rupert Murdoch in a brief statement, saying that he was “deeply saddened” by her passing, and that he and Prudence would “always remember her with love and gratitude”. Patricia Booker’s death was largely ignored by the media, and few people knew or cared about what happened to her. She was overshadowed by her ex-husband’s fame and fortune, and by his third marriage to Wendi Deng, a Chinese-born businesswoman who was 38 years younger than him.
Patricia Booker’s legacy is mainly through her daughter, Prudence, who is the eldest of Rupert Murdoch’s six children. Prudence inherited some of her mother’s beauty and charm, as well as her father’s business acumen and ambition. She became a board member of News Corporation, the parent company of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, and a director of Times Newspapers, which publishes The Times and The Sunday Times in the UK. She also married and divorced three times, and had four children of her own. Prudence is said to have a good relationship with her father, despite his multiple marriages and divorces, and to be loyal and protective of him. She is also close to her half-siblings, especially Elisabeth, who is also a media executive and producer.
Patricia Booker was a woman who lived a life of glamour and drama, but also of pain and loneliness. She was the first wife of one of the most powerful and controversial men in the world, but she ended up being forgotten and neglected by him and by the public. She was the mother of a successful and influential daughter, but she failed to give her the love and attention she deserved. She was a mystery, and a tragedy, in the history of the Murdoch family.