poodles and pearls

The divorce decree of Margaret, Duchess of Argyle took four and a half hours to read.


On the basis of the evidence, declared the judge, the duchess, 49, “was a completely promiscuous woman whose sexual appetite could only be satisfied by a number of men.” He named four specific adulterers including John Cohane, a U.S. businessman living in Ireland whom the court described as a “self-confessed wolf” with “the morals of a tomcat” and an unidentified partner who had been photographed in the nude with the duchess.


The Argylls’ litigation, which has dragged on for 3½ years, was the longest, most expensive and most sensational in Scottish history. And it may not be over, since the duchess still faces charges of libel and conspiracy stemming from her own divorce petition against the duke, which she dropped last May. In that suit, she accused her husband of committing adultery with her stepmother.”


In 1943, the Duchess who was then known as Margaret Sweeny had a near fatal fall down an elevator shaft while visiting her chiropodist on Bond Street.

“I fell forty feet to the bottom of the lift shaft,” she later recalled. “The only thing that saved me was the lift cable, which broke my fall.

After her recovery, Sweeny’s friends noted that not only had she lost all sense of taste and smell due to nerve damage, she also had become sexually voracious. As she once reportedly said, “Go to bed early and often.” (Given her numerous earlier romantic escapades, including an affair with the married George, Duke of Kent in her youth, this may have been a change in degree rather than basic predisposition.)


Introduced into evidence in the 1963 divorce case was a series of Polaroid photographs of the Duchess nude apart from her signature three-strand pearl necklace. Also included were photographs of the bepearled duchess fellating a naked man, and though the photographs showed his genitalia and torso, they excluded his face.

Also introduced to the court was a list of eighty-eight men the Duke believed had enjoyed his wife’s favours; the list is said to include two government ministers and three royals.

The duchess never revealed the identity of the “headless man,” though it was widely believed to be Douglas Fairbanks Jr. who denied the allegation to his grave.


She once told the New York Times, “I don’t think anybody has real style or class any more. Everyone’s gotten old and fat.” To the end of her life, her superficiality remained superbly intact, as evidenced by one characteristically vapid quote: “Always a poodle, only a poodle! That, and three strands of pearls!” she said. “Together they are absolutely the essential things in life.”

Published in: on May 17, 2010 at 8:25 am  Comments (35)  
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April upstaged

In 1962 beautiful transsexual April Ashley was known as the sensation of the year. Here she talks about performing at the Hippodrome

April Ashley

“For this show they had signed up a stripper called Miss Fifi. During the finale she upstaged me by letting her left tit drop out as I came down the stairs. It was very effective because in 1962 tits were rare. After two nights of this I’d had enough. ‘Fifi dearest, I may not be very good but I’m good enough to know when someone’s upstaging me. That’s two nights you’ve dropped your tit. I don’t want to see it again. If I do, you’ll have to take the consequences.’

Twyla (not Miss Fifi)

On the third night I sashayed down the staircase. Plop. There was that tit! I leant over and sank my teeth into it. There was a short scream, followed by a sound beyond the footlights as of a wave sucking back just before…ah well, we didn’t see that tit again.

April was unimpressed when she first met millionaire playboy Clive Raphael but put aside her misgivings to holiday in Beirut and Majorca with him. The relationship did not last and Clive was then briefly married to a much younger model by the name of Penny Brahms.


“I heard nothing more of him until 1972 or 1973 when, while piloting his parents and a new girlfriend across France, the aeroplane exploded, killing all four of them. It was rumoured that the explosion was the result of a planted device, that he had caused offence while gun-running to the Middle East. But far more bizarre than his death was his will. In it he left £500,000, but to Penny Brahms only one shilling and four nude photographs of herself. She challenged it in the courts where the will was discovered to have been a fraud cooked up by Clive’s lawyer, a teacher and a Sardinian boar-hunting duke.”

An article about the strange will was published in the New Straits Times in 1972

“The widow, 21 year old blonde actress Penny Brahms maintained that despite divorce proceedings in which her husband Clive Raphael claimed she had committed adultery with nine men, she had remained on friendly terms with him.

not these nine men

Shelagh McIntosh, a 22 year old teacher and Eric Alba-Teran, a Mexican investment banker were found guilty of forging the will together with barrister Ronald Shulman who police said had fled to South America.

image found here