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Duchess of Argyll; Inspired Cole Porter Tune

July 28, 1993

The Duchess of Argyll, 80, subject of a scandalous, world-famous Scottish divorce 30 years ago. The society beauty considered the inspiration for Cole Porter's popular song "You're the Top" was born Ethel Margaret Wigham, daughter of a multimillionaire. She married and divorced American golfer Charles Sweeny before marrying Ian Douglas Campbell, the 11th Duke of Argyll, chief of the Clan Campbell and hereditary master of the royal household in Scotland, in 1951. Four years later the duke had her legally barred from his ancestral castle. In 1959, launching the notorious divorce case accusing the duchess of adultery with four men, he produced pictures of her with a naked man, naked herself except for three strands of pearls. She in turn charged that her husband had an affair with her stepmother, whom she later sued unsuccessfully over her father's estate. In 1963, a judge granted the duke a divorce in a scathing three-hour, 50,000-word judgment calling the duchess promiscuous and "wholly immoral." Her capital was depleted by high living and all the disastrous litigation, but she retained a maid and some trappings of luxury and outlived the duke by 20 years. On Monday in London after a series of strokes.

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