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The smack-down spouse

Wendi Deng is not alone in lashing out when her man is under fire

  • By Cristina Odone, The Telegraph
  • Published: 00:00 July 23, 2011
  • Gulf News

The smack-down spouse
  • Image Credit: Illustration by Ramachandra Babu/Gulf News

London: In a culture that mourns marriage as a moribund institution, one spouse leaping passionately to the other's defence fills us with admiration. Wendi Deng's slap didn't just scotch rumours that hers was a sham marriage: a purely trophy wife would have winked at the assailant for giving the old man a heart-stopping scare.

With a quick right hook, she jumped to the head of the queue of the defenders of matrimony.

  • Wendi Deng, Murdoch's Chinese-American spouse, leapt to her feet to pummel her husband's assailant. MPs, Murdochs and media types gaped, electrified as proceedings fast-forwarded from Perry Mason to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
  • By the time Rupert Murdoch's bodyguard had reached his master, the 42-year-old Wendi had landed a sensational right-hook on her opponent. She then gained her husband's side, and gently cleaned his face of foam.
  • Within minutes, Deng was the toast of Twitter: hailed as a "smack-down sister" in her native China, and as a heroine and stunning show-stopper everywhere else.
  • Those who know Wendi well (including Tony Blair, Mark Zuckerman and Bono) won't have batted an eyelid at her jaw-dropping performance.
  • Rupert Murdoch's third wife has form. A volleyball player from southern China doesn't climb to the top — Murdoch's personal fortune remains a healthy $340 million (Dh1.25 billion) without fierce determination.
  • Other people on Wendi's ascent have already experienced her fury. The first victim was Joyce Cherry, a pleasant American who, together with husband Jake, befriended Wendi during their trip to China.
  • Impressed by the teenager's brilliance and thirst for self-improvement, Joyce and Jake sponsored Wendi's application for a student visa to America.
  • Nineteen-year-old Wendi soon bewitched Jake, who left Joyce to marry their young protegee.
  • Victim number two was Jake himself: his usefulness came to an end a few months later when Wendi, now armed with the right papers, won a place to study business at Yale University.
  • Days from graduation, Wendi had a job at the Murdoch-owned Star TV, where she quickly caught the Big Boss's eye.
  • The third corpse in the trail to marry Murdoch: Rupert's second wife, Anna.
  • Within 17 days of his divorce, Wendi wed Rupert.
  • The Wendi house conceals skeletons but also offers glimpses of her protective instincts.
  • Conscious of the 38-year gap between them, Wendi has placed Rupert on a tough regime of 6am weightlifting, washed down by a fruit and soy protein cocktail.
  • She has hired a personal trainer to put him through his paces.
  • Wendi also pursues her own agenda. She has just released a film, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, that aims to promote a more positive image of China.
  • She enjoys a glittering social life, attending film premieres and art gallery openings.
  • She remains her husband's chief adviser on his business in China.
  • Wendi Deng has transformed Rupert Murdoch's image around the globe — from dodderer in the dock to prized partner in his wife's life.


Strength: Powerful women who stand up for their men

Cherie Blair

Cherie Blair

Cherie Blair From the moment she moved into No 10, Cherie was under constant attack for her (supposed) greed, stinginess, and self-importance. She let the criticisms bounce off her. But let anyone touch her Tony, and Mrs Blair roared. She gnashed her teeth at the sleazy media that insinuated Tony was a disappointment. No one could doubt Cherie's loyalty. The sight of a prime minister's wife defending her husband reassured voters that their marriage would remain intact.

Anne Sinclair

Anne Sinclair

When her charismatic husband Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested on rape charges in New York, the French TV journalist sprang to his defence: "I do not believe for a single second the accusations levelled against my husband." She flew to stand by her man and stumped up the $1 million (Dh3.67 million) bail to move him from prison to a plush Manhattan apartment. Such wifely devotion may yet save the former IMF chief's political career.

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy

She also wants to show the world that she looks out for her husband's interests. The First Lady of France, pregnant but still displaying every sign of focus and competitiveness, has imposed a culture vulture's menu on her hubby: he is to watch films by Alfred Hitchcock, as well as Russia's Andrei Tarkovsky; and read the French classics, from Balzac to Hugo. Driving this self-improvement, say insiders at the Elysee Palace, is Carla's ambition: she wants her man to be re-elected, and fears his present lowbrow image won't do.

Melania Trump

Melania Trump

She is vocal in her husband's defence: Donald Trump is "brilliant", everyone is envious of his success, and America should be so lucky to have him as their Republican Party candidate. But Melania also gives us an insight into their marriage when she says: "I have a big boy, Donald, and a little boy, Barron. I take care of both very well. 

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