Ann Leslie, the formidable leading lady of Fleet Street who for nearly 35 years covered the Balkan wars, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Zimbabwe, China, El Salvador, Iran, the Gulf War, almost every US presidential election since 1975 and five superpower summits, has died. She went to war with heavy make-up and false eyelashes. “Crying” she once said, “is pointless. It just smudges your mascara.”
Described as “gravel-voiced, courageous and opinionated” she didn’t allow frequent bouts of ill health to stop her hopping on the first helicopter available to a dangerous trouble spot. She also became a familiar figure on television and radio, on Question Time, Stop the Week and Any Questions. She once punched Mohammed Ali for not paying attention and told George W Bush to his face he was “two sandwiches short of a picnic”, which was intended to rile but it merely puzzled him.
She was born a child of the Raj in Rawalpindi on 28 January 1941, with an oil industry father and a distant mother who sent her off to boarding school in India aged five and thence aged 9 to the UK to another boarding school. Oxford followed which led into newspapers. As a showbusiness correspondent initially she was flashed at by Salvador Dali, dallied with several notables from the entertainment world; James Mason wanted to marry her, and she had to fend off the unwanted attentions of David Niven. Then she moved over as foreign correspondent to roam the world’s hotspots.
She had a robust chart and temperament, similar to Dick Cheney’s born two days later, with an Aquarius Sun opposition Pluto square Jupiter Saturn in Taurus. Her Moon was also in Aquarius. Her Mercury in Aquarius was in an outspoken square to Uranus and sextile Mars so she would not be backwards about stating her views. She also had an Earth Grand Trine of Uranus trine Neptune trine Venus which would keep her grounded and give her a business head.
An old style trouper – and her appalling childhood did not seem to hold her back, indeed seemed to fuel her determination to push her luck in the face of danger.