London : Christine Keeler, a former model who was at the centre of the Profumo affair that shook British politics in the 1960s, has died at age 75, her family said.
Keeler, then a teenage model and showgirl, became famous for her role in the 1963 scandal that rocked the establishment when she had an affair with the Tory cabinet minister John Profumo and a Russian diplomat at the same time at the height of the Cold War, the Guardian reported. Profumo was eventually forced to resign after lying to Parliament about the affair.
Keeler’s son Seymour Platt, 46, told the Guardian that she died on Monday at the Princess Royal University Hospital in Farnborough. She had been ill for several months and suffered from the lung disease COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Keeler, who had been living under the name of Sloane for many years, was briefly married twice, both marriages ending in divorce. She had two sons – James from her first marriage and Seymour from her second – and a granddaughter. Platt, who lives in Ireland, said he, his wife and their daughter had last seen his mother a week ago. “There was a lot of good around Chris’s rather tragic life because there was a family around her that loved her,” the Guardian quoted him as saying. “I think what happened to her back in the day was quite damaging.”
Born in Uxbridge, Middlesex, and raised by her mother and stepfather, Keeler was working as a cabaret dancer in Soho in London when she met Stephen Ward, an osteopath, artist and “man about town”. He introduced her to a party scene attended by aristocrats and VIPs, and through him, in 1961, she met both Profumo, then 46 and Secretary of State for War, and the Russian military attache Yevgeny Ivanov, having affairs with both men.The relationships came to light in 1963, amid fears of a Cold War security leak, rocking the Harold Macmillan government.
At the height of the Profumo affair, Keeler gave newspaper interviews and also posed for the now famous photograph of her sitting naked on a chair. Desmond Banks, who had known Keeler since her 20s, said: “She was the last survivor of a story that gripped Great Britain and the world more than 50 years ago.”