Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, mother of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and a legendary philanthropist, has died at age 103 at home in Victoria, Australia. Her death is mourned by thousands as she’s touched many lives through her charity work as well as a symbolic leader of News Corporation, the the global media company Rupert Murdoch founded.
1. She Died Peacefully
Dame Elisabeth Murdoch died peacefully at her home Cruden Farm, a wedding present from her late husband, in Victoria, Australia.
2. She Has 77 Descendants
She was the mother of four, with Rupert, Anne Kantor and Janet Calvert-Jones her surviving children. Her eldest daughter, Helen Handbury, died in 2004. Among her 77 living descendants, five of them are great-great grandchildren.
3. She Was 103
Born on January 8, 1909, she would’ve turned the ripe old age of 104 in this coming January.
4. She Was a Renowned Philanthropist
Well known for her compassion and modesty, she has offered her support to more than 100 charities. She also helped create the Royal Children’s Hospital in Australia and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, and ordained a Dame by the Queen the day the hospital opened. “Be optimistic – and always think of other people before yourself,” she is quoted as saying in an interview on her 100th birthday.
5. She Predicted Rupert Murdoch’s Legal Scandal
In the book published 10 years ago, A Winning Streak: The Murdochs, Dame Elisabeth told author Julie Browning that her son’s acquisition of New of The World nearly “killed” her. She expressed her concerns about the tabloid at the time, but Rupert assured her that he was merely providing millions of readers with the content they wanted.
6. She Inherited A Fortune
Elisabeth married Keith Murdoch, 23 years her senior, on June 6th, 1928 after their fairytale romance that began when a photo of her in Table Talk magazine caught his eye. They were married for 24 years and she inherited the bulk of his large fortune at age 43 when he died in 1952.
7. She Opposed Rupert’s Ruthless Reporting
In a 2003 interview in The Australian Women’s Weekly, she voiced her concerns about the intrusive nature of her son’s publications, saying “I think the invasion of people’s privacy is the worst thing because from that comes so much more. I think privacy is anybody’s right.”
8. She Spread Her Love Around
An article in The Age from 2003 said, “Few can rival Dame Elisabeth’s enormous contribution. Her interests are so many they need to be alphabetically catalogued: academia, the arts, children, flora and fauna, heritage, medical research, social welfare,” as well as less popular causes like “prisoners, children in care, those battling mental illness and substance abuse.”
9. She Was A Master of Wit
At age 94, Dame Elisabeth was awarded a key to the City of Melbourne, and responded with an ever-modest thank you, saying “I just wonder what it means. Will I get a free parking space?”
10. She Faced Some Financial Problems
Despite her incredible wealth, she dealt with some financial problems in her life. In 2007, tax authorities claimed that alterations Rupert made to a family trust meant that his mother owed them $85 million, and though a decision in their favor was made by the administrative appeals tribunal, it was later reversed by federal court.