Ever since 2016, when Ross Poldark engaged in a spot of topless scything in episode three of BBC One’s tale of feuding Cornish folk, the actor who played him, Aidan Turner, has suffered feverish speculation over his love life.
Those perfect pecs. Those rippling biceps. That manly rug of chest hair. Not to mention a six-pack that would be the envy of Brad Pitt in his prime.
Which superwoman was going to persuade this specimen to put a ring on her finger?
Well, now we know. She’s a willowy blonde American actress called Caitlin FitzGerald. It emerged last week that Caitlin and the Irish heart-throb, both 37, tied the knot in secret in Italy.
A few days after the ceremony, the newlyweds were pictured on a romantic dinner date in Rome.
Aidan Turner’s new wife is American actress Caitlin FitzGerald whose family is drenched in scandal, politics and intrigue
Due to Covid restrictions, only the groom’s parents were present, which prompts the question: who exactly is this beauty?
The answer, it turns out, is a very interesting creature. FitzGerald’s grandfather is the late Des FitzGerald, a deputy director of the CIA, who spent years trying to assassinate Fidel Castro with everything from a poisoned pen to a diving suit infected with toxic fungi.
Grandfather Des’s first wife, Marietta Peabody, was a bed-hopping beauty who had affairs with director John Huston and U.S. presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson before leaving her husband to marry a British MP, who loaned his grand stately home to Winston Churchill during World War II.
Des’s second wife, Barbara Green, was to become Caitlin’s grandmother. Barbara was a British actress who appeared in Blind Man’s Bluff with James Mason in 1936 before becoming a Red Cross nurse during the war.
But while Caitlin’s family is drenched in scandal, politics and intrigue, Turner is a more salt-of-the-earth proposition.
Raised on a housing estate in Dublin, his father Pat is an electrician and his mother Eileen an accountant who once kept the books at the local carpet store.
Money was so tight growing up that he had to abandon his first love, ballroom dancing, as his parents couldn’t afford for him to travel to competitions.
Such scrimping is wholly alien to the FitzGeralds.
Caitlin’s father Des made millions in smoked fish. Her mother Pam Allen — who split from Des when Caitlin was a child — is a knitwear designer and journalist.
The key figure in the family, however, is Des Sr — Caitlin’s grandfather. In 1962, Des Sr was made chief of the Cuban Task Force, the body charged by President John Kennedy with killing Fidel Castro.
The U.S.-backed invasion of Cuba had ended in humiliation at the Bay of Pigs a year earlier and the Cuban missile crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear war in 1962.
‘Dizzy Fitz’, as Des was known, had a fertile imagination — when it came to taking out dictators. As head of the CIA’s Far East division, he plotted to ‘immobilise’ communist supporter President Sukarno of Indonesia, by infecting him with venereal disease via an air hostess.
Retired Colonel W Thomas Smith, author of the Encyclopedia Of The Central Intelligence Agency, said of him: ‘He had the grace and manners of a courtier and the imagination of a Renaissance soldier . . . Had FitzGerald lived beyond 57, he may have risen to the Agency’s top post.’
On his Castro mission, Fitzgerald answered to a committee called SGA chaired by the president’s brother Robert Kennedy, who wasn’t an easy boss.
And so Dizzy’s plots grew ever more outlandish.
A few days after the ceremony, the newlyweds were pictured on a romantic dinner date in Rome
That said, the bar had been set high before FitzGerald took over. One plan involved giving the dictator Cohiba cigars dusted with the deadly botulinum toxin.
Under FitzGerald, however, the zaniness of the plots was ramped up. One brainwave involved giving Castro, a keen scuba diver, a wetsuit impregnated with toxic fungal spores, and breathing apparatus infected with tuberculosis.
This ensemble was to be delivered by a lawyer negotiating the return of Bay of Pigs prisoners but, after concluding America would be blamed, the plan was dropped.
Dizzy’s finest hour involved Rolando Cubela, a Cuban army officer and one-time comrade of Castro who had turned on him.
FitzGerald met Cubela in Paris on November 22, 1963, to hand over a hollowed-out ballpoint pen containing a syringe so fine that Castro would feel almost nothing as it delivered a fatal dose of ‘Black Leaf 40’, a nicotine-based insecticide. But November 22 was the day President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
Kennedy’s successor Lyndon Johnson did not share JFK’s appetite for Cold War dirty tricks and the plots were abandoned.
FitzGerald complained the U.S. missed its chance to get Castro. ‘If Kennedy had lived,’ he grumbled in 1964, ‘we would have gotten rid of Castro by Christmas.’
By then his marriage to Peabody was long over.
The dashing Harvard-educated Wall Street lawyer had married this leggy blonde intellectual in September 1939 and they went on to have a daughter, Frances.
Caitlin FitzGerald’s grandfather is Des FitzGerald, a deputy director of the CIA, who spent years trying to assassinate Fidel Castro (pictured)
By the end of the war she was deeply in love with John Huston, then riding high on the back of the success of The Maltese Falcon, and wanted out of her marriage.
While getting divorced, however, Marietta met Anglo-American politician Ronald Tree. The grandson of retail magnate Marshall Field — who left $3.5 billion in today’s money when he died in 1906 — Tree owned Ditchley Park, a country house in Oxfordshire.
Ronald and Marietta married in 1947 but their union was unsuccessful. She found country life boring and, in 1949, left for New York, where she was later joined by her husband. In the Big Apple, she had a 13-year affair with the presidential hopeful Adlai Stevenson.
Fortunately, Ronald didn’t mind as he was bisexual and their marriage had become an amicable estrangement. The three of them would holiday together in Barbados, where Ronald went on to set up the Sandy Lane resort.
Meanwhile, Desmond married Barbara (who died in 1973, six years after him). They had two children: daughter Joan and Desmond Jr, Caitlin’s father. Des Jr did not pick up the family bug for international affairs. After studying biology at Harvard, he moved to Lincolnville, Maine, and made a fortune from fish farming.
His daughter showed a passion for acting from a young age and went to the prestigious Tisch School Of The Arts in New York before crossing the Atlantic to hone her skills at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
While she played Meryl Streep’s daughter in the 2009 film It’s Complicated, her break came when she got the role of the wife of sex researcher William Masters in the TV drama series Masters Of Sex.
She was romantically linked to screen husband Michael Sheen after they were seen at a concert in 2018, but it seems they have only ever been friends. By this point, Sheen was with his now ex Aisling Bea and Caitlin was with Turner.
She seldom discusses her family but told one interviewer: ‘My grandfather died when my dad was 15. He was deputy director of the CIA then, so my dad’s memories are of life in [Washington] DC.
‘I don’t know that much about family history. But I do know my grandfather’s prized heirloom is a backgammon set. We’re all backgammon players.’
How appropriate that the FitzGeralds should be fans of a game in high stakes — and what a fascinating clan for Poldark star Aidan to have joined.