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Lewis Morley's 1963 portrait of Christine Keeler
|Born||22 February 1942|
|Known for||Profumo 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.
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 Buckinghamshire 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.
The Profumo Affair
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 as well as Russian spy Yevgeni Ivanov, outwardly a naval attaché at the embassy of the Soviet Union.
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.
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 Fritz Hansen 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 the Arne Jacobsen model 3107 chair to stardom. However, it is proven that 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. The chair used is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum.
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 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.
A car she formerly owned is an exhibit at the Caister Castle & Car Collection, Great Yarmouth.
- By Christine Keeler
- 1985: Sex Scandals by Christine Keeler and Robert Meadley; Xanadu Publications ISBN 0-947761-03-9
- 1989: Scandal! by Christine Keeler; London: Xanadu Publications ISBN 0-947761-75-6 (basis of the movie of the same name)
- 1989: The Businessperson's Guide to Intelligent Social Drinking by Richard Basini and Christine Keeler; Congdon & Weed ISBN 0-312-92070-9
- 1992: The Naked Spy by Christine Keeler, Yevgeny Ivanov and Gennady Sokolov; Blake Publishing ISBN 1-85782-092-4
- 2001: The Truth At Last: My Story by Christine Keeler with Douglas Thompson; London: Sidgwick & Jackson ISBN 0-283-07291-1
- 2012: Secrets and Lies by Christine Keeler with Douglas Thompson; London: John Blake Publishing Ltd ISBN 978184358755
- By others
- 2004: Wicked Baby by Tara Hanks; PADB ISBN 1-904929-45-1
- 2007: Keeler by Paul Nicholas, Alex Holt, Gill Adams; Stage Production
- Christine Keeler: 'I never even enjoyed the sex' | Mail Online
- "JohnnyEdgecombe". The Daily Telegraph, UK. 4 October 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Accidental Heroes of the 20th Century – 35: Christine Keeler, Call Girl", The Independent, 1999.
- Morley's recollection of the Keeler photoshoot from the Victoria and Albert Museum
- "Caister Castle & Car Collection". Great Yarmouth Holiday Shop. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- Christine Keeler (1942–), Call-girl and model: Sitter in 10 portraits
- Christine Keeler's private photo album