THAT Bill Clinton had one half-brother, the hirsute and somewhat oafish Roger, is well known. But it now transpires that he has another: not through his mother, but through the father who died three months before the 42nd President of the United States was born.
Last year's election campaign forged a golden-tinted myth of William Jefferson Blythe III: the travelling salesman, war veteran and loving husband who was rushing back to see his pregnant wife, Virginia, when he was killed in a road accident in Missouri on a rainy night in May 1946.
Now, however, there seems to have been another 'WJ': the footloose drifter who roamed the south, leaving behind him broken hearts and failed marriages - and, if a remarkable piece of detective work which appeared in yesterday's Washington Post is correct - a child as well.
According to the Post, 'WJ' met and married one Adele Gash in Madill, Texas, in 1935. Both were only 17 at the time. They split up a few months later. But that was not the end of the
On file in Austin, Texas, is a birth certificate to the effect that on 17 January 1938 Adele Gash gave birth to a boy named Henry Leon, with 'WJ' Blythe listed as the father.
That boy is now Henry Leon Ritzenthaler, 55, the retired owner of an office cleaning company and - if the tale that the document tells is true - the unknown half-brother to William Jefferson Blythe IV, alias Bill Clinton.
Adele Gash, says the Washington Post, only learnt of the extraordinary connection during the 1992 campaign when a relative sent her a clipping about Mr Clinton's father. 'I'm not proud of everything I did, but I'm not sorry either,' she told the newspaper. 'People without children are miserable.'
Mr Ritzenthaler himself has tried unsuccessfully to meet his famous sibling. 'I don't want any money out of this or anything. All I would like to do is meet the man. I would be honoured to get to know him a little. To find out after 55 years that I've got a brother eight years younger than I am - well, that's kind of nice.'
Other interested parties were less forthcoming yesterday. The White House declined all comment, while Mrs Virginia Clinton's only reaction was: 'It's all news to me.'
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