The identity of the "headless man" involved in the Duchess of Argyll sex photo scandal that shocked the British public in 1963 has been revealed.
He was American airline executive William "Bill" Lyons, according to Duchess Margaret Campbell's ex-daughter-in-law.
"For 50 years it has been safely, maybe too safely, kept — for in keeping it, we have also perpetuated the mystery, and in so doing we have done Margaret's reputation no favors," Lady Colin Campbell wrote in a first-person piece for The Daily Mail.
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Margaret Campbell was an infamous British socialite whose 1963 divorce from her second husband, the Duke of Argyll, made headlines when salacious Polaroids of her with another man leaked to the press. Accused of carrying on multiple extramarital affairs, Campbell was branded "a completely promiscuous woman," according to the judge that granted her divorce.
The Duchess of Argyll never publicly admitted who the naked man was whose face was cut off in the photo, but it was widely speculated to be Douglas Fairbanks.
Now, her ex-daughter-in-law is claiming that Lyons, who was the Pan American World Airways sales director, is the "headless man."
"[Lyons] was sophisticated, debonair, dapper, well-bred, charming, and handsome," Lady Colin Campbell wrote. "Like [the duchess'] first husband Charlie, he was sexy and great fun. He was reliable and astute. To those of us who were close to her it was hardly a surprise. Bill was her lover, after all."
Campbell died in 1993 at age 80.
"Margaret might have been coquettish, but she was most certainly no cocotte. And the only way to do her justice is to identify the Headless Man," Lady Colin wrote. "Then, and only then, will everyone be able to appreciate that what she was doing in those photographs was not so very terrible. She was simply a woman in love — who was unfortunate enough to have a memento of something happy stolen from her."
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