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The Pulitzer Divorce Took the Prize, but the Kimberly Breakup Is Nothing to Sneeze at

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Get out the Kleenex. Jacqueline Kimberly, 35, the Palm Beach beauty who three years ago played second fiddle to a trumpet in the diverting Peter and Roxanne Pulitzer breakup, has herself applied for divorce, from James Kimberly, 78-year-old yachts-man-about-town and heir to the Kimberly-Clark tissue-paper fortune. “The reason Jacquie is filing for divorce,” explains her attorney, Jack Ackerman, “is because Jim has not been paying the bills. He took away her credit cards. He owes her the right to live in the style that she has grown accustomed to. He made her into what she is. I don’t know why he is doing this, but it doesn’t look like they will reconcile.”

In the divorce petition Jacquie asked for the right to occupy the couple’s Palm Beach home as well as attorneys’ fees, “rehabilitative alimony” and “equitable distribution” of their assets. The petition did not include figures for alimony or the couple’s assets, which may be just as well. Sixteen years ago, on the day of their marriage—her first, his third; Jacquie was 19, Jim, 62—the couple signed a pre-nuptial agreement. That agreement, which Jacquie is now disputing, entitled her in the event of divorce to $18,000 for each year they were married. That now amounts to about $280,000, which is not chicken feed—except when compared to Jacquie’s cash inflow and outgo as listed in the divorce papers.

Her income, she claims, is $0.00. Her monthly expenses: $3,225 for food and tips; $2,500 for the dressmaker; $3,000 for travel; $100 for cigarettes; $200 for newspapers, magazines, books; $2,000 for miscellaneous recreation; $1,500 for “other social hobbies,” etc….

It was, you might say, Jacquie’s alleged “social hobbies” that got her into the tabloids three years ago during the Pulitzer divorce. In that clamorous free-for-all, Peter Pulitzer charged that wife Roxanne slept not just with a three-foot-long trumpet but with Jacqueline Kimberly as well. “Ludicrous,” responded Jacquie at the time. “How can anyone take him seriously?”

Her question might now be directed to Jim Kimberly. He allegedly stopped paying his wife’s bills sometime after it became public knowledge that Jacquie was sharing quarters with a woman named Susan Lynch, 37, whom Palm Beachers tartly describe as “a nobody.” “Jacquie is living with Susan Lynch in Jim’s guest house,” admits lawyer Ackerman, who insists that the two women are “just friends.”

The divorce promises to be nearly as messy as the Pulitzer breakup, but there is no question where Palm Beach sympathies lie. Jacquie is seen to be an interloper and Jim a member of the club. Jacquie’s mother is a French-Canadian who briefly ran her own newspaper in Palm Beach called Ou-La-La; her father is a Connecticut investment banker. Jim is a scion of the Kleenex fortune who in his younger years played as a race-car driver, yachtsman and prize-winning sport fisherman. “Everyone likes him,” says former Port Director Frank Donahue. “He’s so gracious and never fails to pick up the tab.” Adds Palm Beach mainstay Helene Tuchbreiter: “Jim is generous in all charities. I saw him the other day, and he was so warm and friendly. I hope he can get through this all right.”

The locals are especially concerned because Kimberly’s own fortune—once estimated at $4.7 million—apparently is not what it once was. Over the years he has had to sell his Palm Beach mansion, surrendering its coveted oceanfront location and settling for a more modest home. He also has sold his 500-acre country estate in Maryland and reportedly has had to let go most of his 12 retainers. Then there’s the heart attack he suffered in October and the bypass operation that he had this past January. “During much of that time Jim was in Houston with Dr. DeBakey,” says one well-placed Palm Beacher. “Jacquie and Susan Lynch were going everywhere together.”

Many in the Palm Beach set feel Jacquie has been a bit foolish in bringing this divorce. After all, Jim Kimberly still has a six-figure income and is still something of a catch. “Jacquie could have done a lot worse,” says Shannon Donnelly, society editor of the Palm Beach Daily News. “Jim feels bad about the divorce petition. He’s lonesome now, but he won’t be alone for long.”