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Eccentric Earl of Kimberley Dies

June 3, 2002

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LONDON (AP) _ The fourth Earl of Kimberley, notorious for his bad luck at gambling, business and marriage, has died at age 78.

Famous as a scamp, Kimberley, who reportedly died May 26, dabbled in many fields. He died of kidney failure in Wiltshire, western England, the London Times said.

He was on Britain’s national bobsledding team in the 1950s, ran a London public relations company, sold real estate in Jamaica and served as House of Lords spokesman for the Liberal Party until he was kicked out for urging voters to support the rival Conservatives.

He was best-known for his six weddings, his outrageous comments and his gambling, which reportedly squandered much of his family’s fortune. He reportedly sold much of the rural property he inherited to support his lavish lifestyle.

Kimberley, born John Wodehouse, wed his first wife, Diana Legh, in an elaborate 1945 ceremony at Windsor Castle. King George VI toasted the couple’s future happiness, and Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were among the guests.

The groom reportedly said later that he knew even then the marriage was a mistake.

``I couldn’t stop it,″ The Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying. ``Because the king and queen were there, and I was in my best uniform.″

The couple split within a year, and Kimberley wed again and again.

After five divorces, he married Janey Consett in 1982, and the two remained together.

The earl’s father distinguished himself fighting in World War I, and the novelist P.G. Wodehouse was a relative.

In the House of Lords, Kimberley made himself an expert on UFOs. He also served as chairman of the National Council on Alcoholism, but was reportedly fired for saying recovering alcoholics didn’t have to swear off drinking completely.

He is survived by his wife and four sons.

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