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* Peggy Johnson Iacocca; Auto Executive’s Ex-Wife

Peggy Johnson Iacocca, 49, whose short-lived marriage to former Chrysler Corp. Chairman Lee Iacocca generated a wave of national publicity. The auto executive who rescued Chrysler from bankruptcy and wrote a best-selling autobiography was married to his first wife, Mary, for 27 years. She died in 1986 of complications from diabetes. Three years later, he wed Peggy Johnson, a former flight attendant and publicist whom he had met when she was a volunteer and he was chairman of the fund-raising campaign to restore Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty for the landmarks’ 1986 centennial celebration. New York Cardinal John J. O’Connor helped to perform the marriage rites at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but the union collapsed after only eight months. They were divorced Nov. 19, 1987. Five years later, the marriage was annulled. Stunned when she received notification of the annulment in the mail, Peggy Iacocca gave an interview to TV talk-show host Geraldo Rivera, blaming the failure of the marriage on the antipathy of one of her ex-husband’s grown daughters and his continued devotion to his dead first wife, whose possessions were preserved in the master bedroom of their mansion outside Detroit. Peggy Iacocca said she was barred from entering the master suite and slept in former maid’s quarters. She also conceded making a huge mistake when she purchased a new home for herself and the Detroit mogul. The estate in Grosse Point Farms, Mich., turned out to be a former residence of Henry Ford II, who had fired Lee Iacocca in 1978. On Tuesday at the Miami Heart Institute after a heart attack.


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