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Celebrity buzz centers on 2 ABQ natives

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Two Albuquerque natives are the focus of Hollywood’s latest high-profile celebrity gossip.

Multi-billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced this week he was divorcing his wife of 25 years, novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Bezos.

Lauren Sánchez and Jeff Bezos

According to numerous national reports, the Albuquerque-born chairman, CEO and president of Amazon, who turned 55 today, has been dating 49-year-old TV personality Lauren Sánchez, who was born and grew up in Albuquerque. Sánchez is the wife of Hollywood talent mogul Patrick Whitesell.

Bezos was also born in Albuquerque and spent roughly the first four years of his life here before his family moved to Houston.

Sánchez, a 1987 Del Norte High School graduate, was known then by the name Wendy L. Sánchez.

Lauren Sánchez, aka Wendy L. Sánchez, as a senior at Del Norte High School in 1987.

Sánchez has built a successful career for herself on- and off-camera in both TV and film, and her net worth has been estimated by celebrity news sites at $30 million.

According to Journal archives, by 1997 she was a national and international correspondent for the nationally syndicated TV news magazine program “Extra.”

But her rise in television began as an unpaid intern at KCOP-TV in Los Angeles.

Sánchez rapidly proved herself at the UPN-owned and -operated station by working as an assignment editor on the news desk. She was quickly promoted to field producer, where she reported on a wide variety of stories, including the Los Angeles riots, the Northridge earthquake, the O.J. Simpson trial and the presidential elections in Mexico City.

Her first on-air experience was at KTVK-TV in Phoenix. There, she covered high-profile stories such as the Oklahoma City bombing.

Growing up in Albuquerque, Sánchez was driven from a young age.

Lauren Sánchez, aka Wendy Sánchez, as a senior at Del Norte High School in 1987.

In 1987, she was crowned Miss Junior America New Mexico.

At Del Norte, she was a cheerleader for three years and active in student assembly. She also worked at the Beach Waterpark.

On March 16, 1990, Gov. Garrey Carruthers and the Albuquerque City Council declared it Wendy Sánchez Day after she was chosen as the international winner of the Models World Magazine Cover Girl Competition.

“Winning the cover of Models World Magazine has been the highlight of my modeling career,” Sánchez said in an interview then. “I have never been so excited or so inspired to stretch and grow.”

According to Journal archives, she attended the University of New Mexico, where she studied acting and speech. But it also has been reported that Sánchez received a scholarship to the University of Southern California, where she majored in communications.

“One of the things that makes me happiest is combining my goals of modeling with keeping myself in excellent physical condition,” she said in 1990.

Sánchez has appeared in ads for USAir, Wesson Oil, Lovelace Medical Center and Texaco.

These days, Sánchez is a frequent guest host on “The View.”

She was also a regular contributor on shows including “Larry King Live,” “The Joy Behar Show” and “Showbiz Tonight.”

In recent years, Sánchez has appeared in films such as “Ted 2” and “White House Down” as a newscaster. Most recently, she was the safety pilot/aerial producer for the coming film “Miss Bala.”

Sánchez is the daughter of Eleanor Sánchez, former Los Angeles assistant deputy mayor, and Ray Sánchez, an aviation businessman in Albuquerque.

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