Where Are They Now? Christine Keeler and the Profumo Affair Part 1

About the English figure Christine Keeler, history and biography of the woman behind the Profumo Affair that brought down the Tory Government.

Headline--1963: CHRISTINE KEELER

At the Peak: In 1963, London's tabloid News of the World paid her pound 23,000 for the serialization of her life story, and a Danish filmmaker has since produced a movie about her sub rosa exploits among the British upper crust. Christine Keeler, whatever her ultimate intent may have been, caused the toppling of the Tory Government of that year and outrageously endangered the national security of her country--and possibly that of others as well. Here is a hindsight look at what is sure to go down in the history of this century as the Profumo Affair.

Born in Middlesex in 1942, Christine grew up in a converted railway car with her mother and stepfather, Ted Huish. Earning her keep as a babysitter, she seems to have chosen prostitution as a profession when still a teen-ager. After being seduced and impregnated by a GI, she headed for the big town at age 16. For perhaps a year she worked as a waitress in London, then was hired as a showgirl in a club. She was apparently moonlighting as a prostitute at the time because she soon got involved with a wealthy Arab who frequented the club. He in turn introduced Christine to the man who was to change her life--Dr. Stephen Ward, osteopath.

Ward fingered the spines of only the wealthy and titled. His sidelines were sketching portraits of such celebrities as Sophia Loren and Prince Philip and pimping for lords, tycoons, and spies. Ward found it expedient to employ the red-light services of both Christine and her blond, pixie-faced roommate, Marylin ("Mandy") Rice-Davies, then 16 years old.

Ward was a good friend of the playboy Viscount Astor, and had penetrated Astor's "Cliveden set" by offering it his whores and related product lines. At a party in Cliveden in 1961 Ward (who had his own cottage there) introduced Christine, naked in a swimming pool, to Lord John Dennis Profumo, War Minister of the Government. Profumo was married to actress Valerie Hobson, who had appeared in such films as Great Expectations and The Bride of Frankenstein.

What followed was an affair of some duration between Christine and Profumo, conducted at Ward's flat in Wimpole Mews. Whether the lord knew or not, Christine was often frolicking on the same premises with Evgeny "Honeybear" Ivanov, naval attachÈ to the Russian Embassy and a known spy. After receiving security warnings, Profumo ended the meetings with Christine, but already dark hints of his indiscretions were in the London dog sheets. Possibly to avoid exposing both Ward and Profumo, Christine took up with some West Indian blues musicians and drug users. One of the crew, a Jamaican named Johnnie Edgecombe, grew jealous of her telephone clientele. One night when Christine was visiting Mandy Rice-Davies at Ward's flat (Mandy was still in Ward's harem), Edgecombe showed up and started shooting wildly through the door. When he was brought to trial, Christine was a key witness. But she had fled to Spain, allegedly using money supplied by Profumo.

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