Rupert Murdoch Biography: Success Story of Business Magnate

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch

In this success story, we are going to share Rupert Murdoch biography, an Australian-American business magnate. In 1952, Murdoch became the Managing Director of Australia’s News Limited, inherited from his father, Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch. He is the Founder, Executive Chairman of News Corp, and Executive Co-Chairman of 21st Century Fox. Murdoch owns more than 30 newspapers in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, among which there are such famous brands as New York Post (acquired in 1976), The Times (1981), The Sunday Times and The Daily Telegraph (1972). His other assets include HarperCollins (1989), Mushroom Records (1999) record label, Dow Jones information services. The full list of assets is available at By 2000, his company, News Corporation, possessed more than 800 companies in more than 50 countries with a net worth of $5 billion. Mr. Murdoch always strives for domination in any sphere of business he enters, and he controls his every enterprise. The distinctive personality traits of Rupert Murdoch are an adventurous spirit, aggressiveness, passion and directive, supportive & charismatic leadership behaviors.

Early Life

Murdoch was born Keith Rupert Murdoch, AC, KCSG, on March 11, 1931. He was born on a Cruden farm about 30 miles south of Melbourne, Australia, the first son and second child of Sir Keith Murdoch (1885 -1952) and Elisabeth Joy Greene (1909 – 2012), daughter of Rupert Greene. Helen, Rupert’s older sister, was two years his senior. She and Rupert were as close as with none of their younger sisters – Anne, who was born in 1935, and Janet, born in 1939.

Rupert Murdoch Biography

A young Rupert Murdoch in his early years with his father, Sir Keith, in 1936.

Rupert’s father, Keith Murdoch, was a well-known war correspondent who after World War I managed to build a successful career. He became Executive Director of Herald and Weekly Times Group, one of Australia’s major publishing companies. He also owned three local newspapers. From his son’s early childhood, Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch was trying to cultivate in his little son Keith the feeling of love to the profession which he was truly proud of. And he was pretty successful at his attempt – journalism captivated Keith Rupert Murdoch, who later confessed that since his young age he could never imagine his life in any other way.

Named after his father and maternal grandfather, later in life Keith Rupert chose to use the name of the latter. His grandfather, Rupert Greene, was notorious for his laziness, heavy drinking, gambling and a long list of women. A lot of people believed that he had had the biggest (and the worst) influence on his grandson. For instance, Mr. Greene egged little Rupert on to driving his car when the boy could hardly reach the pedals. He was always an integral part of other mischief and pranks that filled his little grandson and granddaughters with raptures.

Rupert demonstrated commercial streak in his early teens. He caught rabbits and sold their fur. He even managed to sell horse dung to elderly farmers. Besides, from an early age he fell in love with risk taking – he used to ride his bicycle all the way to Melbourne after school to stake on another horse at another race.

Apparently, Rupert’s father had some doubts about his son’s skills and abilities, and in addition to journalism, he taught Rupert about discipline. At the age of seven, Rupert was sent to a school with primary military education.

Rupert Murdoch Biography

Rupert Murdoch parents: Elisabeth Murdoch with her husband Sir Keith, January 1942

Another person who may have had the greatest impact on Rupert Murdoch was his mother, Elisabeth Joy Greene, who is claimed to have developed his sense of independence. She insisted that during summer holidays Rupert slept outside in a tree hut built three meters above the ground without any electricity or running water. That was supposed to make a boy healthier and tougher. Although Rupert himself never agreed that those methods had worked, he did grow up to be independent, self-reliant and capable of the victorious overcoming of any unfortunate circumstances of his life. Self-determination and courage that helped Rupert Murdoch become a successful tycoon. And who knows what his biography would be had it not been for his parents harsh upbringing.

Student Years

At the age of ten, Rupert’s parents sent him to a Geelong Grammar School, Australian’s elite boarding school. The boy hated the school with all his heart, but his mother stood her ground hoping that the school would teach Rupert Murdoch to communicate with people and make him less selfish.

Rupert Murdoch Biography

Rupert Murdoch attened Geelong Grammar School, anglican co-educational boarding school.

At school, Rupert Murdoch was editor of the student journal If Revived and co-editor of the school’s official journal The Corian. In 1948, Murdoch finished school and worked part-time at his father’s Melbourne Herald. Later he was encouraged by his father to continue running the family business. In 1950, he went to the City of Oxford to study politics, economics and philosophy at Worcester College, University of Oxford. There, having had a first gulp of real freedom, Rupert broke loose. He, later a staunch defender or free market economy, as a student was an overt admirer of socialism. He even had a Lenin bust seating with honors in his room (much later Rupert Murdoch said that Lenin was the second most important person in his life after his father). Rupert gambled the money away at card games and issued a secret newspaper.

At student years, Rupert Murdoch was a bully, a wealthy man, and a communist, thus combining the qualities not very appealing to the conservative British. He tried to join the Cricket Club and failed – he was refused the membership. His closest friend at that time, Rohan Rivett, who was also his father’s friend, wrote of Rupert in one of his letters to Sir Keith Murdoch, “I am inclined to prophesy that he will make his first million with fantastic ease.” Nonetheless, Murdoch Junior could not boast of any outstanding academic skills or achievements. The university newspaper, Cherwell, once described him as “Rupert Murdoch, cataclysmic chauffeur from the outback … he is known as a brilliant betting man with that individual ‘Billingsgate’ touch.” In any event, in 1953 Murdoch finally passed graduation exams and got his Master of Arts degree.

Rupert Murdoch Biography

Rupert Murdoch studied study politics, economics and philosophy at Worcester College, Oxford. In 1953, he completed his Master of Arts degree.

The Inheritance of Family Business

In 1952, not long before the end of Rupert’s studies in England, his father died from heart attack. Although Sir Keith was in charge of one of the largest newspaper corporations of Australia, he did not have many shares of his own. Besides, a great part of the family’s funds was spent on paying the debts and death duties. In the end, the family inherited two run-down newspapers in Adelaide, The Adelaide News and The Sunday Mail, and a radio station in a distant town of Broken Hill. Rupert decided to continue his family business News Limited, and for that he needed to get some experience in the media industry. Luckily, his father’s old friend, a newspaper proprietor Lord Beaverbrook, offered him a place as sub-editor at his London paper Daily Express.

In September 1953, Rupert Murdoch returned to Adelaide to take up the charge of his heritage. He became the chief editor of The Sunday Mail and The News, which were close to bankrupt due to their low circulation figure of just 75,000 copies. Murdoch’s appearance immediately stirred up the quiet life of Australia’s province. He actively participated in the work of each department and by age 22, he had gained himself a reputation of a “boy publisher”. His amazing energy seemed to be contagious as all of a sudden all the people around him were working faster and harder trying not to fall behind this whirlwind kind of a person.

In the early 1960s, another Adelaide newspaper which belonged to Australia’s most prominent media family, the Peckers, for whom Rupert’s father had once worked, wanted to drive The Adelaide News out of business and run the “boy publisher” out of town. However, each Peckers’ action faced a counter-action twice as strong carried out by Murdoch. Having initially wanted to make Rupert sell his newspaper and leave the business, Sir Frank Packer in the end had to give in to his energy and enthusiasm and agreed to the merger of their companies leaving the “boy publisher” in charge.

Activities in Australia and New Zealand

Murdoch’s first attempt to expand his business took place in 1956 when he acquired Melbourne weekly magazine New Idea. Having completely changed financial situation of the magazine, he next bought the Perth’s troubled The Sunday Times. This purchase caused lots of disagreement among the board of directors of Adelaide News because Perth was located more than 1,400 miles away from Adelaide, which made the managing of the newspaper much more complicated. Murdoch was determined to prove the board of directors wrong. That is why he went to Perth and rose the almost broke newspaper from rags to riches. In Perth, he first became known as the publisher of sensations. “Circulation at any cost” became his motto. Sensational blood-freezing headlines, such as “Leper Rapes Virgin, Gives Birth To Monster Baby!”, became usual for Murdoch’s newspapers. His strategy worked, and, as if by magic, the newspaper’s popularity soared, and it took a leading position at the market. Murdoch began to buy other small newspapers in towns all around Australia.

After correction of his goals, Murdoch became obsessed with a sensational invention in the world of entertainment – television, which in the middle of 1950s reached Australia. He foresaw that the new technology would become an accomplished fact in mass media. The first Adelaide TV station started to function in 1957, and Murdoch decided to buy one channel. He bid successfully for a license for Adelaide channel 9 and went to the United States to study the internal mechanisms of the branch and buy a packet of programs for his new station. Murdoch’s first stop was in Las Vegas, where he once and forever fell in love with American culture and the Strip Street.

Murdoch’s first mentor in television business was Leonard H. Goldenson, a television pioneer, founder and chairman of American Broadcasting Company, Inc. Goldenson had just made a deal with Disney and acquired the reputation of a magician in TV world. The two venturesome entrepreneurs quickly found common grounds and made lots of businesses together. Murdoch sold Goldenson 6% of his News Corporation in exchange for the broadcast of ABC’s programs in Australia and long-term cooperation in the sphere of supply of programs to the Australian market.

Rupert Murdoch Biography

Leonard H. Goldenson, the founder and chairman of ABC Inc., was the first Rupert Murdoch’s mentor in the television industry.

Murdoch came back to Australia inspired by new thrilling perspectives that television gave him. He was planning to create an Australian version of “TV Guide”. In September 1959, he issued that magazine and its publishing coincided with the beginning of channel 9 broadcasting. The TV channel immediately became successful and brought enough money for restless and impulsive Rupert Murdoch to be able to expand his empire with a steady speed.

Murdoch’s expansion in the Australian market continued. In 1960, he purchased Sidney’s tabloid The Daily Mirror, which he transformed in the manner that later became his calling card. The Daily Mirror became a mixture of criminal chronicles and erotic publications, which turned out to be extremely and immediately popular among the readers. On July 14, 1964, Murdoch founded and released the first in Australia nation-wide newspaper – The Australian, the circulation of which went to 75,000 issues in 1972.

Rupert Murdoch Biography

In 1960, Rupert Murdoch purchased Sidney’s tabloid The Daily Mirror.

Rupert Murdoch success story was rapidly developing, his business, covering newspapers, magazines and TV channels, went national in Australia. In 1972, he acquired the Daily News and the Sunday Telegraph. They belonged to the Parker family, Australian media mogul. By the mid 1970s, Murdoch’s mass media became a decisive force in the Australian market and a powerful tool of conservative political agitation.

Activities in the United Kingdom

In 1968, Murdoch purchased the News of the World from the Carr family. One of his friends from college, Stephen Catto, called him one day and asked if Rupert would be interested in buying the most popular lucrative newspaper in Britain, the News of the World. Londoners themselves called this newspaper News of the Screws or Screws of the World because, despite its venerable age, this periodical was the dirtiest one in Britain. In 1969, News of the World became the property of Rupert Murdoch and his first foothold in the outer non-Australian world. On July 10, 2011, the News of the World ceased publication after 168 years in print due to the phone-hacking scandal, when editors of the News of the World newspaper were accused of engaging in phone hacking and exercising indecorous actions in the chase of stories.

Robert Maxwell, a book publisher and Member of Parliament, was eager to buy The Sun to increase his presence on Fleet Street. He assured IPC (International Publishing Corporation) that he would publish an “honest news” therefore the paper would continue to support the Labour party. However, the IPC declined Maxwell’s proposal. In 1969, Murdoch purchased a dilapidated London newspaper The Sun (formerly called Daily Herald) for £800,000.

At Murdoch’s possession, this newspaper was subjected to very serious transformation having become one of the brightest examples of Murdoch’s market penetration. When he purchased it, The Sun was mostly aimed at the supporters of Labour Party and demonstrated pretensions to intellectuality. Having become Murdoch’s property, the newspaper turned into a mass tabloid with the standard “yellow” press content: sex, sports, and sensations. Moreover, encouraged by the rapidly growing popular taste for erotica, The Sun went beyond its competitors starting to print the pictures of topless models on the third page. Murdoch’s next purchase after The Sun was Sydney’s tabloid newspaper The Daily Telegraph which he bought from Frank Packer in 1972.

Rupert Murdoch Biography

Rupert Murdoch holds one of the first copies of the Sun newspaper after acquisition. November 17, 1969.

In 1981, Murdoch bought a British company Times Newspapers, which issued The Times and The Sunday Times. At the end of 1980s and the beginning of 1990s, Murdoch started his conquest of British television market. In 1989, Murdoch’s satellite company Sky Television was launched in Great Britain.

Activities in the United States

Next year the Australian entrepreneur made his first step at the USA’s market. In 1973, Murdoch acquired two daily newspapers from Harte Hanks for $19 million in San Antonio, Texas, USA – San Antonio Express and San Antonio Evening News, which were later merged under the name San Antonio Express-News. Also, in 1970s, Murdoch bought The New York Post for $12 million. Later he bought the New York Magazine, the Country Voice, and the New West.

By the year 1977, the main part of Murdoch’s empire was represented by the company Cruden Investments, named after the Scottish church congregation of his grandfather. Cruden, which was jointly owned by Rupert himself, his mother, and his three sisters, controlled 40 percent of the shares of News Ltd, which in its turn regulated the work of all the enterprises in Australia. News Ltd owned 48 percent of News International Ltd, which took charge of the British part of the business. News International Ltd and News Ltd combined owned 100 percent of Murdoch’s assets in the USA. In 1979, all the companies were consolidated into the worldwide News Corporation, with Rupert Murdoch becoming the General Director and the member of the board of directors. Later, in 1991, he also became the chairman of the board of directors.

Our reputation is more important than the last hundred million dollars. – Rupert Murdoch Click To Tweet

In 1980s, Murdoch decided to enter the US television market. Since American laws forbade the foreigners to own local TV channels, in 1985 an Australian entrepreneur received American citizenship. After that, he purchased regional TV channels that were later consolidated into US’ fourth national TV network – Fox Broadcasting. In the same year of 1985, Murdoch also acquired 20th Century Fox film corporation.

In 1982, Mr. Murdoch acquired The Herald American from Hearst Corporation, and literally saved it from being closed. At that time, The Herald American faced declines in advertising and circulation. Later renamed it to the Boston Herald. In 1984, Rupert Murdoch purchased the Chicago Sun-Times from Field Enterprises, and the paper’s writing style became similar to New York Post. On May 01, 2007, Murdoch’s News Corporation released a statement that confirmed acquisition of Dow Jones & Co by biding on $60 per share, or $5 billion in total. On August 01, 2007, News Corporation completed the acquisition of Dow Jones & Co.

International Influences

Murdoch’s mass media started to play a major role in politics. In July 2007, in the interview with Ken Auletta, answering a question about what gave him the most pleasure of all his empire Murdoch confessed, “being involved with the editor of a paper in a day-to-day campaign … trying to influence people.” In 1970s, due to his influence the Conservative Party lost the elections in Australia. Murdoch supported the leader of the Labor Party Gough Whitlam. After Whitlam’s victory, Murdoch said that he had played a “substantial part” in Labor’s 1972 election victory. However, he quickly lost his enthusiasm for Whitlam and is believed to have confidentially instructed his Australian editors to “kill Whitlam” that, coincidentally or not, resulted in the dismissal of Whitlam from his position of Prime Minister and political crush of the Labor Party.

Murdoch’s mass media in Great Britain actively supported Conservative prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and later a new labourist Tony Blair. In the USA since the times of the President Ronal Reagan, the propaganda for the Republicans has mostly been carried out. As critics believed, political views of the press and TV channels that belonged to Murdoch were not dictated by his personal appeals but were only determined by the interests of a business game in this or that country. Thus, after the loss of Republicans in the US midterm elections of 2006 News Corporation has notably increased its subsidies to the needs of the Democratic Party.

When I hear something going wrong, I insist on it being put right. – Rupert Murdoch Click To Tweet

Murdoch regularly has lunches with presidents and monarchs. His power and influence have become equally monumental and universally impedimental to further expansion of his empire. The governments and corporations are slightly scared by Murdoch’s ability to influence legislation processes and elections results. Indeed, his power is frightening taking into account that more than thirty thousand people are employed at News Corporation that weekly issues more than sixty million copies of newspapers. Murdoch’s newspapers make 70% of all Australian press and 33% of the British one, and Fox TV is broadcast in more than 90 million homes worldwide. Moreover, News Corporations’ daughter companies – Harper & Row and Zondervan – are the biggest publishers of Bibles in English.

Murdoch’s competitor in the sphere of forming public opinion, Ted Turner, has once called Murdoch the most dangerous person on the planet, and such a high concentration of so many means of media in one – Murdoch’s – hands – a challenge to the modern world.

On June 28, 2012, News Corporation’s assets were split into two publicly traded companies, one targeted towards media, and the other towards publishing. On 28 June 2013 the split officially took place. News Corp. was renamed to 21st Century Fox and now consists mainly of media outlets while new News Corp was organized to take on the publishing and Australian broadcasting assets.

In November 2014, News Corp invested $30 million in real estate site ProTiger in November 2014. Next month they acquired a financial planning website In March 2015, News Corp invested in Indian media company VCCircle. On July 25, 2014, 21st Century Fox informed about the sale of Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland to BSkyB for $9 billion.

Personal and Family Life

Rupert Murdoch’s biography is full of love stories although he cannot actually be called a womanizer. In 1956, Murdoch met a lovely blonde – flight attendant Patricia Booker whom he madly fell in love with. Even though, the greatest part of their honeymoon Murdoch spent inspecting his new business purchases. In 1958, the couple had their only child, Prudence (b. 1958). Nevertheless, family commitments could never distract Rupert from work. Rupert and Patricia were married for 11 years and they got divorced in 1967 .

In 1962, a 30-year-old media mogul met a young journalist Anna Maria Torv (Tõrv), who came to interview him for one of his Sydney newspapers. His energy and charisma absolutely smote Anna. Their meeting coincided with Murdoch’s divorce, and nothing seemed to get in the way of their happiness. Nevertheless, Rupert and Anna got married only in 1967. It is said that such a delay may have been caused by Anna’s strict Catholic beliefs that she inherited from her mother, Sylvia Braida, a Scottish dry cleaner. Anna’s father, Jacob Tõrv, was an Estonian-born merchant seaman who had been earning his living by cleaning a store. When Anna turned nine years old, her family moved to Australia in pursuit of happier and better life.

They were married for 31 years and on the outside their marriage looked like a perfect dream. Anna put her journalistic career to a halt firmly believing that no good can turn out of a family where both husband and wife work their fingers to the bone. As a result Anna Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch had three children: Elisabeth Murdoch who was born in Sydney, Australia on August 22, 1968, Lachlan Murdoch who was born in London, UK on September, 08 1971, and James Murdoch who was born in London on December 13, 1972. Rupert would have always been a perfect husband and father was it not for one small thing – passion for incessant hard work.

Rupert Murdoch Biography

Rupert Murdoch sits with his second wife Anna Murdoch Mann and their three children, (left to right) Elisabeth (9), Lachlan (6), and James (5), on a couch, New York, 1977.

Nonetheless, Anna knew what she was buying. The newlyweds spent their honeymoon in New York, where sightseeing and Rupert’s business meetings took turns. Once Anna managed to talk her husband into going to opera, although it was entirely obvious how little Rupert cared about any art except television and the art of signing contracts and making money. Anna silently resigned herself to such a lifestyle dictated by her husband’s business ventures. Without any complaint, she changed her living places – Sydney, London, New York. When Murdoch needed to acquire American citizenship to buy a television channel, he bought a house in Los Angeles, and all his family became an American one.

Keeping in mind that once Murdoch was fond of navigation, Anna talked him into buying a 158-foot yacht, Morning Glory, built by Perini Navi Group and launched in 1993. This plan was aimed at distracting Rupert from his business routine at least once in a while. The maximum term that Murdoch spent on the board of his yacht was three days with the majority of time devoted to telephone communication instead of fishing and yachting.

Rupert Murdoch Biography

Murdoch sold Morning Glory yacht to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

When Anna and Rupert broke up in 1999, everyone was wondering how come! Was it because Anna’s patience had finally given way? On the other hand, maybe the reason lay in Anna’s decision to become a businesswoman (after 1990 financial crisis hit Murdoch’s company Anna became a member of the Board of Directors of News Corporation).

However, everything turned out to be much simpler. Murdoch was having an affair with a 31-year-old Chinese-born Wendi Deng. A former model and a recent Yale graduate, Ms. Deng was an intern at one of Murdoch’s affiliated companies in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, it was not Rupert Murdoch who decided to file in for a divorce, but his wife, who informed Rupert about her intentions. Anna had suspicious that Murdoch had a girlfriend. In 1999, Torv and Murdoch got separated. The divorce cost him a reported $1.7 billion.

At the end of July 1999, after 17 days of Torv and Murdoch’s divorce finalized, Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng got married on the board of Morning Glory yacht, which was bought on Anna Torv’s initiative. The Morning Glory yacht moored in New York harbor. At dawn, the yacht plied past the Statue of Liberty and took the course to the Atlantics. Six months later, Anna Torv married to William Mann, a financier.

Rupert Murdoch Biography

Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng after the wedding ceremony, July 1999.

The third marriage prompted Murdoch to move from the Pacific coast to the Atlantics. The newly-weds settled down in a cozy apartment in New-York’s Soho. Murdoch seemed to have been head over hills in love with his young wife, he was constantly in a romantic mood and his employees even started worrying when their boss came to work without a tie or in a wrinkled shirt. However, even being so dreamy Murdoch never made any mistakes and did not lose a single penny or a business opportunity. Soon everything fell back into place.

Moreover, Wendi soon became not only Murdoch’s pretty half, but she was involved in work performing duties of an unofficial consultant of James Murdoch in Hong Kong.

However, soon a fly got to the ointment and the couple’s happiness was saddened by Rupert Murdoch’s “low grade” prostate cancer, luckily discovered at its initial stage. The doctors gave Murdoch the most positive forecast indicating that he only needs to change his daily routine a little.

Mr. Murdoch’s spokesman reported the doctors had got down to Murdoch’s case very seriously. He went through a radiotherapy course. In the morning, he was ordered to drink ice-cold fruit juice with some soy-powder added. After that, he was to go to the gym where for about an hour he was “tortured” by experienced coaches.

There’s always a way to improve. – Rupert Murdoch Click To Tweet

Apparently, wild events of his life – divorce and new marriage with all the inherent nervous breakdowns – had their toll on the senior man’s body. However, Murdoch had no regrets. He claimed that he had finally understood what happiness was, and only then with his new young wife could he perceive a real family harmony.

Wendi Deng, in turn, got to making her contribution to the enlargement of the Murdochs family. On November 19, 2001, she had a baby-girl, Grace Helen born in New York, and on July 17, 2003, she gave birth to Chloe born in New York as well. In September 2011, it was disclosed that Tony Blair is Grace’s godfather.

On June 13, 2013, Rupert Murdoch filed for divorce at the New York State Supreme Court from Wendi Deng. According to his spokesperson, their marriage “irretrievably broken down”.

In the rating of the 400 richest people in America, published by Forbes magazine in 2015, Rupert Murdoch took 38th place with a net worth of $11.6 billion.

Secret of Success

Rupert Murdoch has reached the top of success because he has always been in a hurry. Due to his impatience and decisions, mostly logical, but often taken on the grounds of a simple feeling-like-it, he has built his empire over a very short time. Murdoch’s biographer, William Shawcross, explains such a success by Murdoch’s ability to devote himself entirely and completely to any activity, regardless whether it is his work or a simple game of tennis. It is Murdoch’s constant struggle for growth, development, and improvement, restless search for new peaks and horizons which made him who he is today – a wealthy and powerful almighty master of the press, television and other media alike.

Content is everything. – Rupert Murdoch Click To Tweet

Rupert Murdoch is a business magnate and talented entrepreneur whose company controls more than 800 media companies. Rupert Murdoch life story shows that all his success he achieved thanks to his persistence, hard work and, of course, thanks to his quick accumulation of assets in Australia, the UK, and the US markets. We hope you have enjoyed exploring Rupert Murdoch biography and success story of News Corp, and it has inspired you to new discoveries.

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