Who is Matt Lauer's ex-wife?

As the scandal surrounding the accusations of sexual assault against Matt Lauer continues to unfold, there is renewed curiosity about the women in the former morning show host's life. 

Lauer's first wife, Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson, spoke out in support of her ex following his Today show termination. Who is this former flame who's now championing the disgraced TV journalist? Here's everything you need to know.

They met on a TV show

According to Boomer Magazine, Alspaugh-Jackson (then just Alspaugh) and Lauer met in the early '80s when they were both working for PM Magazine, a syndicated news and entertainment show. Lauer was a host, and Alspaugh was a producer. They married in 1981, but divorced in 1989. She later married TV producer H. Read Jackson, who died in 2016.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Alspaugh-Jackson said her split from Lauer was "amicable," and she maintained a relationship with her ex and his new family. "We were very friendly and I, of course, met his current wife, Annette, and we had our children at the same time," Alspaugh-Jackson said, claiming that "despite the fact that we were divorced, I could always count on him."

She defended him against sexual assault allegations

Alspaugh-Jackson gave a full-throated defense of Lauer against the sexual assault and harassment allegations that effectively ended his TV career. "He's been the best person that's ever held that job," she told Entertainment Tonight, "and I couldn't imagine that anything that he would have done—would have been so out of character for him—that would have caused that reaction."

She called him "incredibly nice, incredibly charming and incredibly willing to help anybody." She also questioned the validity of the allegations and warned that rushing to judgement would negatively impact Lauer's family. "There are three children…I think it's important to be aware that this can destroy a family. Reporting on accusations before they know whether they're real or not."

"I never saw him as a power monger or somebody who would abuse his position in any way," she said.

She says she tried to warn Lauer that a story was brewing

Alspaugh-Jackson told Entertainment Tonight that a reporter contacted her prior to Lauer's termination. She claims she reached out to her ex by phone to warn him of the impending scandal; he reportedly thanked her and denied everything.

After Lauer's shocking termination, it was revealed that both Variety and The New York Times had been investigating allegations about his alleged sexual impropriety for some time.

"I think he was blindsided by the whole thing," said Alspaugh-Jackson. "What I want to get out there is the side of him that I know and that so many others know about him, which is the charming, want to help you in any way kind of guy he was," 

She denied their marriage ended because of cheating

Though Lauer has been accused of being, at best, an alleged serial cheater, and at worst, an alleged sexual predator, Alspaugh-Jackson claims he never fooled around on her. "The reason my marriage to Matt ended was not because of infidelity on his part," she told Entertainment Tonight.

But rumors about Lauer's infidelity have plagued his current marriage for years. On top of whispers of random affairs with staffers, Lauer has been linked to celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis and fellow Today co-anchor Natalie Morales. He's repeatedly denied all the rumors. 

Lauer's current wife, Annette Roque, filed for divorce (and later withdrew the filing) in 2006, citing "cruel and inhumane acts," according to the New York Daily News.

Though she now describes Lauer in glowing terms, Alspaugh-Jackson seemed to suspect some sort of trouble in his and Roque's marriage wa back in 2005, when she told the National Enquirer, "I heard he and Annette are breaking up. I was not shocked to hear that. But it's very sad."

She was a TV producer

Though Lauer's TV career obviously eclipsed Alspaugh-Jackson's, she also enjoyed a very successful behind-the-scenes showbiz career. In addition to her claim that she "pioneered the magazine program format with Westinghouse's PM Magazine," Alspaugh-Jackson is also an Emmy-winner who's worked on The Carol Burnett Show, Mama's Family, and Leeza.

"Walking into television, I felt like I was where I belong," she told Boomer Magazine, recalling her first broadcasting gig at WCVE in Richmond, Va. "I was the only girl on an eight-person crew, and the crew taught me everything."

She's an autism advocate

Nowadays, Alspaugh-Jackson finds herself in front of the camera each week for Let's Talk Autism, a web series she co-hosts as part of her role as a leading advocate for autism awareness. Alspaugh-Jackson, who now serves on the board of directors for ACT Today (Autism Care and Treatment Today,) became active with the cause when her own son, Wyatt, was diagnosed at 3-years-old with PDD-NOS, a developmental disorder that falls under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorder.  

In addition to her work with ACT Today, which she says "gives grants to children and families that cannot afford or access treatment," Alspaugh-Jackson also launched her own annual awareness fundraiser called Denim and Diamonds for Autism in 2006. In its first year, Denim and Diamonds was held in her backyard and raised an impressive $30,000. By 2014, it had grown into a full-blown red carpet affair and silent auction, boasting a total of $1.5 million raised since its start.

The gala event has enlisted the help of celebrities such as Magic Johnson, Howie Mandel, Florence Henderson, and Corey Feldman. Alspaugh-Jackson reflected on the organization's success, telling Conejo Valley Happening: "I think when you ask from the heart, people respond well." 

She's an author

Alspaugh-Jackson is the author of two books focused on women of the baby boomer generation: Fearless Women: Midlife Portraits and Not Your Mother's Mid-Life: A Ten-Step Guide to Fearless Aging.

In Fearless Women, Alspaugh-Jackson and co-author Marilyn Kentz use a pictorial format to showcase famous women of their generation wielding swords "to symbolize their passionate and courageous approach to aging."

In Not Your Mother's Mid-Life, Alspaugh-Jackson and Kentz focus on tips "to help women face middle age with confidence and a positive attitude." According to the book's introduction, the idea bloomed when both women, then in their 40s, reached turning points in their lives. Alspaugh-Jackson's marriage to Lauer had just ended, and Kentz, whose own marriage was struggling, was also "spiraling down into the empty-nest syndrome." After two years of commiseration and working on projects dedicated to aging awareness, the women created their "ten-week Fearless Aging plan" and decided to kick the whole thing off with an instructional guide.

She co-wrote and performed 'Boomer Babes'

Alspaugh-Jackson and Kentz aren't kidding around when they say they started a "Fearless Aging" movement. In addition to their books, they also created a "two-woman show" called Boomer Babes that toured the country. 

The Missoulian described it as "a funny, poignant and sometimes heart-wrenching look at the inevitabilities of time, but not the inevitability of fear." The live stage show involved Alspaugh-Jackson and Kentz rapping, singing, dancing, and performing skits about "aging parents, empty-nest syndrome, the value of friendships and intimacy, and—yes—the physical ravages of age." At each performance, they honored a local woman who embodied the characteristics of the movement.

"We believe that women don't even find their true calling until they're in their 40s," Alspaugh-Jackson told The Missoulian. "We try to find women who have given back to the world, and who've made it a better place."

She's a runner

Though she's certainly not as outspoken about her athletic accomplishments as she is about her autism activism and female empowerment movement, Alspaugh-Jackson is also a seasoned pro when it comes to distance running.

In 2014, the Los Angeles Daily News profiled Shannon Farar-Griefer, a fitness model and ultra-marathoner who has battled multiple sclerosis and also worked with Alspaugh-Jackson on fundraisers for ACT Today. Farar-Griefer said that with Alspaugh-Jackson's help, she took up running again after 20 years and eventually completed "several marathons" as well as two 50Ks–for you mathletes out there, that's just over 31 miles.

Alspaugh-Jackson told the Daily News that running provided the escape she needed at a time when her life "became all about autism." She added, "I needed that outlet, that challenge, friends to support me… Running a marathon is a great way to conquer those fears and show yourself you can take on anything."