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Duchess of Argyll sex scandal: ‘Headless man’ identified

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Margaret Campbell, the late Duchess of Argyll, made the scandal sheet news fifty years ago when sexually explicit Polaroid pictures of her with an unidentifiable partner – termed the “headless man” – hit the news, reports the Telegraph on Monday, Dec. 30. The man has now been identified as William H. Lyons.

Known as Bill, the Pan American Airlines sales director had been the Duchess of Argyll’s lover for six years, so there should not have been a major mystery, but the photos figured heavily in the divorce proceedings between Margaret and Ian, the 11th Duke of Argyll. In court, the “headless man” was never properly identified.

The original scandal and the divorce all happened in 1963, when the reading public was still easily shocked. Eventually the whole affair was overshadowed by the Profumo scandal, which brought politics into the mix. But the Duchess of Argyll, who died in 1993 at the age of 80, never told who was with her in the photos.

Instead, she let speculation run riot, and guesses included Douglass Fairbanks Jr. and a couple of political figures.

A “headless man” headline can always capture attention, but the story has resurfaced as the Duchess’s stepdaughter-in-law has decided to bring “justice” to Margaret’s memory. Margaret had, Lady Colin Campbell revealed, told her the story .And Polaroid pictures, which were the latest in technology at the time, leave no negatives – so memory had to serve.


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