His public persona is one of a doting dad of three, often citing his family on air and laughing about how at home he isn’t famous, he’s ‘just papa’.
However, behind the morning show smile, Matt Lauer has been surrounded by allegations and rumors that suggest a dangerously determined desire to reach the top and secret womanizing ways.
Claims he stabbed colleagues in the back on his way to the top, had affairs with co-stars and even bombshell divorce papers from his own wife, have chipped away at Lauer’s carefully constructed public persona as the man America could trust.
Second wife: Lauer married Annette Roque in 1998 – the couple are pictured that year left and in 2015 rig
Lauer was first married to TV producer Nancy Alspaugh in 1981 but the pair divorced in 1988
When rumors of infidelity plagued Lauer’s second marriage, Alspaugh allegedly told the National Enquirer: ‘I was not shocked to hear that but it’s very sad.’
Lauer’s career started to soar after the breakdown of his first relationship, culminating in being named co-anchor of Today in 1997 which would give him a rumored paypacker of $25million a year.
In 1998, Lauer married his second wife, former Dutch model Annette Roque. He was briefly engaged to television newscaster Kristen Gesswein, but they split in 1996.
‘She is the most interesting person I have met,’ Lauer said of Roque at the time.
The pair have three children together but their marriage nearly collapsed in 2006.
Bombshell divorce papers filed by Roque accused Lauer of ‘controlling and cruel’ behavior and valuing his work over his family.
The papers, obtained by The National Enquirer, said, ‘The conduct of [Matt] so endangers the physical and mental well-being of [Annette] so as to render it unsafe and improper for plaintiff to cohabit with defendant.’
Family life: Lauer often talks about his three children on air at Today – Jack, Romy and Thjis
The couple had two sons at the time these papers were filed, Jack, then 5, and Romy, then 2.
‘The defendant has continuously and repeatedly given higher priority to … personal interests than to his family obligations to plaintiff, causing plaintiff to feel abandoned, isolated and alone in raising the parties’ children,’ the papers contined
Lastly, Annette said she endured ‘continual mental abuse’ from Matt.
Matt filed his own legal action days later, saying any ‘cruel and inhuman treatment’ he may have exhibited was ‘provoked’ by his wife.
The documents were withdrawn by Roque and only came to light in 2014. They currently remain married but the New York Post says they live ‘separate’ lives with Roque living with the children in the Hamptons and Lauer residing in the city throughout the week.
Lauer has previously admitted juggling work and his family life can be a struggle.
‘It’s a challenge for me just as it’s challenging for everyone else. There are times when the schedule of this job interferes with things I want to be a part of at home. I have understanding bosses who let me take time for family events when I need it’, he told fans in a Facebook discussion.
Denials: Lauer was forced to deny claims he had an affair with co-star Natalie Morales, far right
Gossip sheets and websites often refer to Lauer as a womanizer, but only once has the anchor spoken out to address specific rumors.
In 2016, Lauer was forced to publicly deny he was having an affair with his Today show co-host Natalie Morales.
Rumors surrounded Morales’ decision to leave the morning show for Access Hollywood.
‘Every aspect of this story is untrue, and it’s frankly sad that someone would tell lies to harm everyone involved,’ Lauer told Page Six at the time.
He later said he had denied the claims to protect his family.
‘When you feel your family is being threatened and hurt, you speak up. And then you put your head down and go back about your business,’ he told the Mike Lupica podcast.
Morales also spoke out.
‘There is absolutely no truth to this completely absurd story. It is damaging, hurtful and extremely sexist. I have proven myself in all aspects of my job as a news professional and journalist, and am adding to my role, taking on three jobs with ‘Access Hollywood Live’ and ‘Access Hollywood,’ in addition to ‘Today.’ This move was dictated by me and my desire to grow in my career. Any insinuations beyond that are uninformed,’ she said.
Underhand: Lauer was accused of plotting to get Ann Curry booted out of Today, the co-stars pictured together on the show
Lauer was cited as one of the key players in Ann Curry’s troubled time and exit from the Today show.
A New York Magazine feature claimed Lauer simply did not like her and so made himself awkward to work with on-air and when the cameras weren’t rolling.
The network was widely criticized when the 15-year veteran was axed particularly as she broke down in tears on live television announcing the news.
Lauer also allegedly ‘blew a gasket’ over Megyn Kelly’s appointment to the network from Fox News.