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Standing by her man

Anne Sinclair is IMF banker's biggest asset

PARIS - She's a gutsy, charismatic television journalist who long had more star power than even her political heavyweight husband.

Anne Sinclair, wife of jailed IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is known as the "quiet force" who gave up her career to assist her husband, and whose celebrity, ambition and drive helped propel him to international renown and the threshold of the French presidency.

Throughout her 20-year marriage, Sinclair has time and again marshaled her wealth and clout to defend her husband through political, financial and sex scandals, once saying she would fight "with tooth and nail" to protect him.

Sinclair learned of her husband's detention late Saturday night in Paris, where she was attending a birthday party for famed French heartthrob, singer and actor Patrick Bruel, according to Le Parisien. She flew Monday to New York, along with Strauss-Kahn's spokeswoman.

Sinclair was a French A-list celebrity in the 1980s and 1990s as host of one of France's most popular television programs, "7/7." From 1984 to 1997, her blue eyes and trademark angora sweaters were a staple of Sunday night TV, as she interviewed heads of state and global celebrities.

Her guests ranged from Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev to Madonna, Bill Gates and Paul McCartney, on a program that Sinclair compares on her blog to being like a French "Larry King Live."

The show regularly drew between 10 million and 12 million viewers a week, making Sinclair one of France's highest-paid and most influential journalists.

In 1997, at the height of her fame, she gave it all up: Her husband was named finance minister - and she quit to avoid any conflict of interest.

Born in New York in 1948, where her family had fled the Third Reich, Sinclair grew up in Paris' posh 16th arrondissement. Her grandfather was the famous pre-war art dealer Paul Rosenberg, one of Picasso's early champions.

She got her start in journalism at 25, working at French radio station Europe 1. She moved into television five years later, and by 1982 was hosting programs on France's ratings champion TF1. Her work on "7/7" earned her four of the French equivalent of the Emmys.

She met Strauss-Kahn in 1989, they wed in 1991. It was his third marriage, her second.

At the time, Strauss-Kahn was a junior minister for industry, and considered one of the Socialist party's rising stars. French newspaper Liberation has written that "for a long time it was her contacts, her media prominence, social status and wealth" that helped give Strauss-Kahn his increasing political stature.

The couple was tested in the late '90s by two financial scandals. Strauss-Kahn was forced to resign as finance minister as a result of one of them, but he was later cleared at trial. Sinclair was at his side throughout it all, appearing multiple times with him on the cover of glossy high-circulation magazines like Paris Match.

Ten years later, she's still ready, and still fighting.