Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Christine Keeler, born February 2, 1942, is the model and showgirl whose involvement with a government minister discredited the Conservative government of Harold Macmillan in 1963, in what is known as the Profumo Affair.
Born in Uxbridge, Middlesex, England, she was raised in the village of Wraysbury in Berkshire. At age 15, she found work as a model at a dress shop in London's Soho quarter. At 16, she gave birth to a son after an affair with an African-American soldier. The infant only lived a few days and she soon went back to work as a showgirl at Murray’s Cabaret Club in Soho where she met Dr. 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 relationship.
The Profumo Affair
In July of 1961, Ward introduced her 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 suspecting that she was also sleeping with Yevgeny Ivanov , a naval attaché at the embassy of the Soviet Union.
Keeler was briefly imprisoned for her part in what was effectively a prostitution ring which also included her friend Mandy Rice-Davies; Ward committed suicide before he could be convicted.
Already the author of several books on the affair, in 2001 she worked with editor Douglas Thompson to write her biography titled
At the height of The Profumo Affair in 1963, Keeler sat for a portrait which became one of the iconic images of the 20th century. The photoshoot with Lewis Morley was to promote a film that was never distributed. Keeler had unwisely signed a contract which required her to pose naked for publicity photos. Keeler was reluctant to continue, but the film producers insisted, so Morley persuaded Keeler to sit astride a bentwood chair such that whilst technically she would be naked, 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, although the actual chair used turned out to be a knock-off. Subsequently the photograph has been much imitated and satirised, including versions by Morley himself.
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