In 1978, 21-year-old Jerry Hall, a Texan by birth and Parisian model by inclination, was at a fashion show in the City of Light. Faced with the show’s hectic scene – dresses flying, young women squeezed into outfits for approval by a fickle crowd – she was bored. Or, maybe, hoping for something better.
“Sometimes,” she told The Washington Post at the time, “I think to myself, ‘Maybe Mr. Right is at the end of the runway, some guy who’ll take me away from all this lunacy.'”
Since she left the Dallas suburbs at 16, Hall, 59, has courted three very famous Mr. Rights – two rock stars and one of the most powerful businessmen in the world. Now, she’s tying the knot with the third man: 84-year-old News Corp. executive chairman Rupert Murdoch. The news came the old-fashioned way: via the Marriages and Deaths section of British newspaper the Times, owned by Murdoch’s company.
“They have loved these past months together, are thrilled to be getting married and excited about their future,” a spokesman for the Murdoch family said, as the Associated Press reported.
Murdoch has been married three times before; Hall was married just once, to Mick Jagger. Life with a Rolling Stone and a future with Murdoch, a man said to be worth $11 billion, wasn’t necessarily imaginable for a girl who grew up poor.
“I was 5’10” when I was 14, skinny and flat, with huge feet, and I never had a boyfriend,” she said in 1985, when she published her memoir, “Tall Tales.”
As Hall has said, growing up in a large family in Texas in the 1950s and ’60s was less than glamorous. She was terrified of her alcoholic father, a truck driver with a bad temper.
“He was very violent,” she said in 2008. “He had to drive explosive chemicals across the country and took uppers and would come home and beat us five girls. He broke bones.”
At 11, she got her first job, cleaning out horse stables. Though unglamorous, the job led to her first sexual encounter after she and a friend got their hands on a copy of “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex.”
“We read about orgasm and all that and thought we were really missing something,” Hall said. “We wanted to get it over with, so we asked the champion bull rider if he would do it with us. We did it in the hayloft, in the rain. It was quick, and not so romantic, but I think it’s always that way the first time.”
At 16, she’d had enough. She set out for Paris with one suitcase filled with her mother’s knockoff outfits of Frederick’s of Hollywood clothing.
“I turned up pretty rough, chewing gum and reading comics,” she said in 2005.
Hall turned out to be a diamond in the rough, though. She soon found a career as a model, walking for Revlon and Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium. But everything changed when she got asked to pose as a mermaid for an album cover.
“They picked me up at the airport in London in a Daimler,” she remembers. “And then I saw Bryan. He was tall and handsome, with slicked-back hair, and he smelled of Floris.”
Bryan was Bryan Ferry, frontman of the famed band Roxy Music. She and Ferry were together for two years; Hall appeared on the cover of Roxy Music’s album “Siren” (1975). But the English rock star didn’t do Texas well.
“Bryan sort of freaked out about it and everyone was embarrassed,” Hall wrote in her memoir. “Plus, I don’t think he liked my mother’s cooking too much – you know, real down-home cookin’. He made faces and picked at his food. He wasn’t exactly what you’d call a good sport.” And Ferry, as one biographer of Roxy Music explained, felt Hall was “addicted to publicity.”
Hall’s choice for her next great romance did little to dispel that notion. She began dating Jagger while she was still with Ferry.
“Amazingly, we never got caught,” she said. “He would cover his mouth — it’s his mouth people see. I was about to get married, but Mick just had this charm, and I was really crazy about him. I was so fickle. I went back to Bryan, but when you have an affair with someone you care about, it’s never the same. It ended up quite badly. I liked them both so much. People say it’s impossible to love two people, but I did.”
Hall’s liaison with Jagger transcended mere groupie-dom, though. The couple were together for more than two decades and had four children, but they tied the knot only in 1990. Hall began to build up an acting résumé, appearing in “Batman” (1989) and on British television, among other credits. Alas, the marriage fell apart in 1999 after Jagger had a child with another woman.
“All of our friends are the same friends, we like the same people,” Hall later said of her famous ex. “So we got on great. Except he slept with lots of other people, which was horrible. Otherwise, he was perfect.”
Newly single, Hall turned to the stage, appearing as Mrs. Robinson in “The Graduate” in London’s West End theater district while cultivating a “stable of studs,” as the Independent newspaper put it.
“I have gone out with younger men and they’re great fun, they’ve got enthusiasm,” Hall said. “Stamina! But I think older men are much better lovers.” She added: “I don’t want to have children, because I already have four. And I don’t want to be bossed around because I’ve got my own money, you know.” (Hall’s divorce settlement with Jagger was reported to be in excess of $40 million.) “So it’s got to be the right person. But I do quite like the idea of having a companion.”
Whether Murdoch turns out to be a lover with stamina or a mere companion may never be known. On Twitter, some expressed concern that this couple was a poor replacement for Bennifer.
“Surely Jerry Hall isn’t that desperate,” one critic noted. Gawker’s headline was particularly unfriendly: “Jerry Hall to Wed a Toad.”
But whatever her intentions or those of her intended, Hall’s attitude toward marriage — or, at least her attitude decades ago — means that this union may have a chance.
“I’ve been very careful not to bring up things that would upset a man,” she said while still involved with Jagger in 1985. “I’ve always felt the man is king of the house and should be amused and treated well.”