Christine Keeler outside court during the 1963 trial
Christine Keeler, the model and showgirl at the center of the 1960s Profumo sex-and-spy scandal, has died at the age of 75 from a lung disease.
Born in Uxbridge, Middlesex, Keeler was a topless dancer at Murray’s Cabaret Club in London’s Soho when she met Stephen Ward, an osteopath, artist and “man about town”, The Guardian says. He introduced her to aristocrats, VIPs – and John Profumo, then 46 and the secretary of state for war.
She was also introduced to Yevgeny Ivanov – a Russian naval attache and spy, according to The Daily Telegraph – and had affairs with both men at the same time.
Profumo lied about his relationship with the 19-year-old showgirl, but was later forced to admit sharing a mistress with a Soviet diplomat, prompting his resignation and rocking the Conservative government.
“The Profumo Affair, as it became known, has echoed through the years as one of the era’s most lurid tabloid scandals, with hints of espionage, Cold War politics, class prejudice and sexual hypocrisy,” The Washington Post says.
Douglas Thompson, the journalist and author who worked with Keeler on her memoir, called The Truth At Last, told the BBC that Keeler “tried to escape it. I don’t think she ever got away from it – that was a tragedy… she could never stop being Christine Keeler.”