Christine Keeler

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Christine Keeler
Christine Keeler on After Dark.JPG
Appearing on television discussion After Dark in 1988
Born(1942-02-22) 22 February 1942 (age 71)
NationalityBritish
Occupationmodel
Known forProfumo Affair
 
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Christine Keeler
Christine Keeler on After Dark.JPG
Appearing on television discussion After Dark in 1988
Born(1942-02-22) 22 February 1942 (age 71)
NationalityBritish
Occupationmodel
Known forProfumo Affair

Christine Margaret Keeler (born 22 February 1942) is an English former model and showgirl. Her involvement with a British government minister discredited the Conservative government of Harold Macmillan in 1963, in what is known as the Profumo Affair.

Biography[edit]

Born in Uxbridge, Middlesex, England, Keeler was brought up by her mother and stepfather in a house made from two converted railway carriages in the Berkshire village of Wraysbury. At the age of 15, she found work as a model at a dress shop in London's Soho. At 17, she gave birth to a son after an affair with a man called Jim, an African-American sergeant from Lakenheath Air Force base. The child was born prematurely on 17 April 1959, and survived just six days.

That summer, Keeler left Wraysbury, staying briefly in Slough with a friend before heading for London. She initially worked as a waitress at a restaurant in Baker Street and there met Maureen O’Connor, a girl who worked at Murray’s Cabaret Club in Soho. She introduced Keeler to the owner, Percy Murray, who hired her almost immediately as a topless showgirl. While at Murray's she met Stephen Ward. Soon the two were living together with the outward appearance of being a couple, but according to her, it was a platonic "brother and sister" type of relationship.[1]

The Profumo Affair[edit]

In July 1961, Ward introduced Keeler to John Profumo, the British Secretary of State for War, at a pool party at Cliveden, the Buckinghamshire mansion owned by Lord Astor. Profumo entered into an affair with Keeler, not realising that she was also sleeping with drug dealer Johnny Edgecombe[2] as well as Russian spy Yevgeni Ivanov, outwardly a naval attaché at the embassy of the Soviet Union.[3]

Keeler's affair with Profumo was terminated by the government's Cabinet Secretary, Sir Norman Brook, who spoke to him on the advice of Sir Roger Hollis, the head of MI5. On 9 August 1961, Profumo wrote to Keeler advising her he could no longer see her. However, when Johnny Edgecombe was arrested for firing a gun at the door of Keeler's home, news of the affair became public, creating a scandal resulting in Profumo's resignation from parliament. Keeler became a celebrity.

The portrait[edit]

Lewis Morley's 1963 portrait of Christine Keeler

At the height of the Profumo Affair in 1963, Keeler sat for a photographic portrait that became famous. The photo shoot, at a studio on the first floor of Peter Cook's Establishment Club, with Lewis Morley was to promote a proposed film, The Keeler Affair, that was only distributed outside Britain. Keeler had previously signed a contract which required her to pose nude for publicity photos, but was reluctant. The film producers insisted so Morley persuaded Keeler to sit astride an imitation of an iconic plywood chair, so that whilst technically she would be nude, the back of the chair would obscure most of her body.

At the time, Morley and Keeler were already famous, but the photo propelled Arne Jacobsen's model 3107 chair to stardom.[4] However, the actual chair used was an imitation, with a hand-hold aperture cut out of the back to avoid making it an exact and infringing copy.[5] The chair used is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum.[6]

Recent appearances[edit]

In 2001, already the author of several books on the affair, Keeler worked with journalist Douglas Thompson to write her autobiography titled The Truth at Last: My Story.

Keeler appears alongside Mandy Smith in the promotion video for Bryan Ferry's 1987 hit single Kiss and Tell.

Cultural associations[edit]

In the 1989 film about the Profumo Affair entitled Scandal, actress Joanne Whalley portrayed Keeler.

Keeler is also the subject of songs by Dusty Springfield and the Pet Shop Boys (called "Nothing Has Been Proved"), Phil Ochs, the Glaxo Babies, the Senseless Things, Kamphundar Överallt and Roland Alphonso entitled "Christine Keeler", and her name appears in the Porcupine Tree song "Piano Lessons", in Street Songs by Hamish Imlach and in "Post World War II Blues" by Al Stewart. She is mentioned in The Kinks song "Where are they now?", from the album Preservation Act 1.

In Harry Harrison's 1965 novel Bill, the Galactic Hero, the story's hero, Bill, serves on the warship Christine Keeler.

Publications[edit]

By Christine Keeler
By others

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Christine Keeler: 'I never even enjoyed the sex' | Mail Online
  2. ^ "JohnnyEdgecombe". The Daily Telegraph, UK. 4 October 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  3. ^ Accidental Heroes of the 20th Century – 35: Christine Keeler, Call Girl", The Independent, 1999.
  4. ^ Volker Albus; Reyer Kras; Jonathan M. Woodham (2000). Icons of design!: the 20th century. Prestel. p. 100. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Morley's recollection of the Keeler photoshoot from the Victoria and Albert Museum
  6. ^ Design Museum (5 October 2009). Fifty Chairs That Changed the World. Octopus. pp. 1951–. ISBN 978-1-84091-586-0. Retrieved 30 June 2013. 

External links[edit]