Mandy Rice-Davies

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Mandy Rice-Davies
Mandy Rice-Davies (1964)
Rice-Davies in 1964
Marilyn Rice-Davies

(1944-10-21)21 October 1944
Died18 December 2014(2014-12-18) (aged 70)
London, England
Known forProfumo affair
Rafael Shauli
(m. 1966; div. 1971)
Charles LeFevre
(m. 1978; div. 1978)
Ken Foreman
(m. 1988)

Marilyn Foreman (21 October 1944 – 18 December 2014), better known as Mandy Rice-Davies, was a Welsh model and showgirl best known for her association with Christine Keeler and her role in the Profumo affair, which discredited the Conservative government of British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in 1963.

Early life[edit]

Rice-Davies was born near Llanelli, Wales, and, during her childhood, moved to Solihull, Warwickshire.[1][2] Her father was a policeman before becoming a technologist for Dunlop Rubber, and her mother was a former actress. She attended Sharmans Cross Secondary Modern School.[3][4] As a teenager she worked at Woods Farm in Shirley assisting with the horse yard there. She appeared older than her age and at 15 she got a Saturday job as a clothes model at the Marshall & Snelgrove department store in Birmingham. At 16 she went to London as Miss Austin at the Earls Court Motor Show.[5]

Profumo scandal[edit]

At Murray's Cabaret Club she met Christine Keeler, who introduced her to her friend, the well-connected osteopath Stephen Ward, and to an ex-lover, the slum landlord Peter Rachman.[6] Rice-Davies became Rachman's mistress and was set up in the house in which he had previously kept Keeler, 1 Bryanston Mews West, Marylebone. Rice-Davies often visited Keeler at the house she shared with Ward at Wimpole Mews, Marylebone, and, after Keeler had moved elsewhere, lived there herself, between September and December 1962. On 14 December 1962, while Keeler was visiting Rice-Davies at Wimpole Mews, one of Keeler's boyfriends, John Edgecombe, attempted to enter and fired a gun several times at the door.[7] His trial brought attention to the girls' involvement with Ward's social set, and intimacy with many powerful people, including Viscount Astor at whose stately home of Cliveden Keeler met the War Minister John Profumo. Profumo's brief relationship with Keeler was the centre of the affair that caused him to resign from the government in June 1963, though Rice-Davies herself never met him.[8]

"Well he would, wouldn't he?"[edit]

Stephen Ward was found guilty of living on the earnings of prostitution (money obtained from Rice-Davies and Keeler among others); the trial having been instigated after the embarrassment caused to the government.

While being cross-examined at Ward's trial, Rice-Davies made a riposte which has since become famous. When James Burge, the defence counsel, pointed out that Lord Astor denied an affair or even having met her, she dispatched this swiftly with pert humour, "Well he would, wouldn't he?"[9] (often misquoted "Well he would say that, wouldn't he?").[10] By 1979, this phrase had entered the third edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, and is occasionally referred to with the abbreviation MRDA ("Mandy Rice-Davies applies").[11]

Later life[edit]

A Private Eye cover at the time of Profumo had a photograph of "the lovely" Rice-Davies with the caption (without any headline or other identification), "Do you mind? If it wasn't for me – you couldn't have cared less about Rachman".[12] Rice-Davies released a 45 EP on the Ember label (EMB EP 4537) in May 1964 entitled Introducing Mandy, which included cover versions of songs such as "All I Do Is Dream of You" and "You Got What It Takes".

Rice-Davies traded on the notoriety the trial brought her, comparing herself to Nelson's mistress, Lady Hamilton.[13][14] In 1965 she was an associate of pre-fame David Bowie, attending his rehearsals and live performances.[15] In 1966 she married an Israeli businessman, Rafi Shauli and moved to Israel. The couple had one daughter together and Rice-Davies converted to Judaism.[16] She also opened nightclubs and restaurants in Tel Aviv. They were called Mandy's, Mandy's Candies and Mandy's Singing Bamboo. In 1980, with Shirley Flack, Rice-Davies wrote her autobiography, Mandy. A year later she appeared in the Tom Stoppard play, Dirty Linen and New-Found-Land. In 1989, she wrote a novel entitled The Scarlet Thread. The Ottoman Empire provided the backdrop and the novel was described as a stirring wartime saga in the spirit of Gone with the Wind.[17] Subsequently, journalist Libby Purves, who had met Rice-Davies when Mandy was published, invited her to join a female re-creation on the River Thames of Jerome K. Jerome's comic novel Three Men in a Boat. This expedition was commissioned by Alan Coren for the magazine Punch, the other members of the party being cartoonist Merrily Harpur and a toy Alsatian to represent Montmorency, the dog in the original story. Purves recounted how she "immediately spotted that this Rice-Davies was a woman to go up the Amazon with" and, among other things, that "only Mandy's foxy charm saved us from being evicted from a lock for being drunk on pink Champagne."[18]

Rice-Davies appeared in a number of television and film productions,[19] including Absolutely Fabulous and episode 6 of the first series of Chance in a Million. Her film career included roles in Nana, the True Key of Pleasure (1982), Black Venus (1983), and Absolute Beginners (1986) as the mother of Colin — whose father was played by Ray Davies from The Kinks. In the 1989 film Scandal, about the Profumo affair, Bridget Fonda portrayed Rice-Davies alongside Joanne Whalley as Keeler.

She was closely involved in the development of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Stephen Ward about Ward's involvement in the Profumo affair, in which she was portrayed by Charlotte Blackledge. The musical opened on 19 December 2013 at the Aldwych Theatre. On Radio 4's Midweek on 5 February 2014, Rice-Davies said of Stephen Ward, "I didn't fall for him, but I did have an affair with him."[20] She once described her life as "one slow descent into respectability".[21]

Illness and death[edit]

Rice-Davies died from cancer, aged 70, on 18 December 2014 in London.[22][23][24]

In popular culture[edit]

Rice-Davies is played by Bridget Fonda in Scandal, a 1989 film about the Profumo affair.

She is portrayed by Ellie Bamber in The Trial of Christine Keeler, a 2019–2020 six-part BBC One television series.[25]


  1. ^ "Mandy Rice-Davies Obituary". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  2. ^ "Mandy Rice-Davies Obituary". The Guardian. 19 December 2014. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  3. ^ "Mandy Rice-Davis". Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  4. ^ Lockley, Mike (22 March 2013). "Mandy Rice-Davies: "My life has been one long descent into respectability"". Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  5. ^ Shirley Green (1979) Rachman. London, Michael Joseph: 157
  6. ^ Shirley Green (1979) Rachman. London, Michael Joseph: 159
  7. ^ Ludovic Kennedy (1964) The Trial of Stephen Ward: 10
  8. ^ David Profumo (2006) Bringing the House Down
  9. ^ Robertson, Geoffrey (19 December 2014), "Mandy Rice-Davies: fabled player in a very British scandal", The Guardian, retrieved 14 July 2015
  10. ^ This has become a popular phrase among politicians in Britain. It is used to indicate scepticism of a claim due to the obvious bias of the person making the claim. Examples of this phrase:
  11. ^ Worstall, Tim (28 January 2017), "Unilever Boss Says You'll Just Have To Suffer Price Rises Post-Brexit - Well, He Would, Wouldn't He?", Forbes, retrieved 4 July 2020; Also Phillips, Tim (2011), Fit to Bust: How Great Companies Fail, Kogan Page Publishers, p. 108, ISBN 978-0-7494-6014-3
  12. ^ Private Eye, 26 July 1963; The Life and Times of Private Eye (ed. Richard Ingrams, 1971), page 85.
  13. ^ The Penguin Dictionary of Modern Quotations (J. M. & M. J. Cohen, 1971) 190:69
  14. ^ Stanford, Peter (19 December 2014). "Mandy Rice-Davies obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 December 2023.
  15. ^ Lancaster, Phil (2019). At The Birth of Bowie. pp. 107–108.
  16. ^ Rice-Davies, Mandy (13 July 2008). "Relative Values: Mandy Rice-Davies and her daughter, Dana". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 13 July 2008.
  17. ^ Allan, Jani. Mandy Rice-Davies - High-life scandal to low-profile success Sunday Times (South Africa). 10 September 1989
  18. ^ Libby Purves in Country Life, 17 November 2010
  19. ^ Mandy Rice-Davies at IMDb
  20. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Midweek, John Wardley, Mandy Rice-Davies, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Marc Lucero". BBC.
  21. ^ Pelling, Rowan (1 October 2013). "Mandy Rice-Davies' wise words for those caught in flagrante". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  22. ^ "BBC News - Profumo affair's Mandy Rice-Davies dies at the age of 70". BBC News. 19 December 2014.
  23. ^ "Profumo affair's Mandy Rice-Davies dies aged 70". The Daily Telegraph. 19 December 2014.
  24. ^ "Mandy Rice-Davies - obituary". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  25. ^ Leaper, Caroline (30 December 2019). "The real story of the Profumo Affair: Ellie Bamber on playing the 'heroine' behind the 1960s sex scandal". The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 January 2020.

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