Veteran Australian TV journalist Liz Hayes has always preferred to keep her private life just that – but it became increasingly difficult during a decade-long period in which she divorced three times.
Hayes, 67, opens up about that tumultuous time in her life in a podcast interview to accompany her feature in the latest issue of Stellar magazine, out today.
Hayes had married her first husband Brian, a builder in her hometown of Taree, in the late 70s when she was 21 years old. They split in the mid-80s, around the time she was appointed co-host of the Today show and her career and public profile skyrocketed.
Then came a brief marriage in February 1991, to Australian entrepreneur John Singleton. They split by Christmas of that year, Hayes becoming the fourth of his six wives, and remained friends.
In 1994 came another marriage, to Sydney doctor Stephen Coogan – but they split in 1997.
With three divorces under her belt at the age of 40, the journo who’d always cherished her privacy found herself becoming the story, with speculation about her rocky love life in tabloids and women’s weekly mags in the late 90s.
“It was a crap time. Let’s face it, these things are not great. And it’s magnified. It becomes bigger than Ben Hur,” Hayes told Stellar.
“You’re looking at yourself. You’re reading about yourself. You’re noting that the view of you is pretty grim, so you come away thinking, I am pretty grim, I’m a bit of a failure on that front – and people are writing that,” she said.
She confessed it felt “soul destroying” to see the attention her string of failed marriages had garnered.
“You could go knock on everybody’s door and say, ‘Well, can I give you a bit of backstory?’ You can’t do that, so you just have to accept that that’s the deal. But frankly, it’s a bit soul destroying to have seemingly the world telling you, ‘Yep, you’re a dud.’
“It’s hard. I defy anybody, and those people who write those stories, to sit there and hear and see that written about them.”
Since that time, Hayes love life has settled down considerably: Former 60 Minutes soundman Ben Crane has been Hayes’ partner since the early 2000s. The fiercely private pair are rarely seen together in public.
Read the full interview with Hayes in Stellar Magazine, free with the Sunday Herald Sun and Sunday Telegraph, out today.