I recorded a podcast this week and I talked a little bit about Stephen Ward and how James Norton and John Hurt both played him with such charm and charisma and what a credit it was to them. I also talked about meeting John Hurt with Christine.
It really started in around 1980 and I was about nine, my reading and writing was well behind where it should have been and I was being failed by my school along with a lot of other inner city children. Christine and I were living in a council estate and were desperately poor,the past couple of years had been very difficult for Christine. “I wasn’t living, I was surviving,” she later said.
I think Christine was getting more and more worried about me. I would go out with friends and hang around on the estate and she was worried about my future. So one day she asked me if I wanted to meet my father.
It was a short walk from the eleventh floor flat at the World’s End Estate to his four storey house in a wealthy part of Chelsea, less than a mile, but it was a world away. My mother had left him when I was six months old, they went through an extremely long and acrimonious divorce, so much so that I was made a ward of court because they had both managed to make each other look so bad through the legal process that the High Court were deemed a better guardian.
On meeting me for the first time in many years, my father was also concerned about my level of education,so he paid for me to go to a boarding school in Kent. Staying at the school would get me away from any distractions on the council estate and maybe even to get me away from my mother after that bitter divorce.
At half terms and holidays I would travel back to the council estate in Chelsea with Chris. I think it broke her heart sending me to school, but it was an opportunity for me that she never had.
A few days before I was sent to the new school in the countryside I was with Chris in The World’s End pub near where we lived. We didn't often go to pubs but at that age my job was to sit quietly in the corner with a fizzy drink. One of the locals who called himself a real gangster told us he had been to prison for robbing banks. He also told me, “When you get to this new school, the boys will probably tie you up and rape you, it’s just what happens at these places. When you have money you send your kids away to be raped, they think it makes them men”
I was terrified.
“It’s ok” he continued “When you get there, you need to figure out who’s the top dog, who’s in charge, and you need to take them out, just walk up to them and bang! butif they are a big fucker, wait till they are asleep, then take them out.” There was a long pause: “Do that, they won’t come near you”
I asked Chris what she thought and she said she was going to call the school and ask them to make sure I wasn’t raped by the other boys.
I was very nervous when I arrived at St Michael’s prep school and immediately homesick. The housemaster looked down at me and said,“I’ve spoken to your mother, and we will take care of you.” I remember he was smiling - I can’t imagine the conversation they had had.
So on my first night, when everyone was asleep, I stabbed a boy in the arm with a compass. It worked, in fact I don't think anyone spoke to me for the first week, but I wasn't tied up and raped. In fact I never did see any boys tied up and raped.
I do remember in our dorm, behind an old wardrobe was a name carved into the wood from on an old boy It said “John Hurt” and a date that I can’t remember. We all knew that was the actor John Hurt as he was a famous ex pupil and we all knew he had the Alien burst out of his chest in the Ridley Scott movie, some of us had even seen it. We would talk about it when the lights went out at night to try and scare the boys who hadn’t seen it.
Many years later John Hurt would star in Scandal, the 1989 film about the Profumo affair. He played Stephen Ward and was very good in it, he was charismatic and likeable, the hero of the story. To promote the movie Scandal we went to America and Christine was on chat show after chat show, but she wasn't alone. John Hurt was doing a lot of the shows with her. One morning we all jumped into limousine and were on our way to either another chat show or the airport to fly off and do a chat show in another city. It was a long way from the council flat in Chelsea. There were four of us in the back the seats, which faced each other: Christine, John Hurt, his partner and myself. Christine was in a great mood, she wasn't tired that morning. She had begun to get into a new routine and had got over the initial nerves of doing interview after interview and I think her adrenaline had kicked in.
As we sat in the back of the car Christine was telling John about how wonderful her son was and I was sitting there hoping the world would swallow me up. Christine was always telling people how wonderful her son was, it was so embarrassing at seventeen. She was telling him about what a good actor her son was, I was in a youth theatre at the time and Christine was so proud.
“He is a really good actor,” praised my mum. “He can make himself cry, just like that,” and she turned to me and said, “Go on Seymour, cry, show him - just start to cry”.
It wasn’t lost on me that this was John Hurt who had been nominated for an Oscar for The Elephant Man. I was really embarrassed - John Hurt had had the Alien from Alien burst out of his chest, and at seventeen this felt worse.
“There’s nothing worse than a doting mother,” I said under my breath.
John Hurt leant forward, looked me right in the eyes.“Oh yes there is,” he said, “a mother who doesn’t care”.
A very quick blog post that some may find interesting.
It’s a list of Lucky Gordons crimes from the Daily Mail press cutting library. I think it is interesting as it highlights some of his later crimes against women, such as the attack on Daniella Perkins with a screwdriver in 1973.
It also has Christine’s scribbles all over it, this was one of her habits, any piece of paper, inside of a book, anything - she would scribble notes all over it.
It’s been another busy week with more research done and we have already started contacting experts to help with the next step in the campaign. There is still a lot of work to do but it is getting exciting.
With everything in the news and talk of vaccinations I was thinking about a story Christine used to tell people, about the time I was desperately sick in 1975 after I was given the smallpox vaccination.
The smallpox vaccine was one of the first to be developed, using science that goes all the way back to 1796, it is a ‘live vaccine’ and that means you are given mild similar pox called vaccinia virus and as your body learns to fights off this vaccinia virus it also builds immunity to smallpox because the two viruses are so similar. In fact this vaccine worked so well that smallpox has been eradicated all around the world, saving millions of lives.
After I was given the smallpox vaccination I was very unlucky and got very sick, developing full blown vaccinia virus with a rash all over my body and a high fever. Christine took me to her doctor who gave her some very stark news. Doctor Green was a heavy set man with lots of curly black hair that he wore like a big wig. He sat behind a large mahogany antique desk, one of those with a green leather top and he told Christine that I was very ill, indeed I may not live through the night! Her son’s situation was quite desperate and there was nothing anyone could do, Christine needed to keep a close eye on me until the fever had broken, and then he sent us home.
I remember my mother sitting at the end of my bed that night, opening and closing windows to ventilate my room, keeping me cool but not too cold. Christine would tell people about that desperate night and how afraid she was for her son’s life that night. How she watched over me and that correctly ventilating the room probably saved my life.
When I was older I asked her why wasn’t I sent to hospital, if I was that sick why were we sent home?
“I’m not sure he was a very good doctor” Christine replied.
A year or two after the ventilated room we went to see Doctor Green again, his curly black hair now with a few waves of grey. I can’t remember exactly why we were there but at the end of the visit Christine mentioned how hard it was to get me to go to bed at night.
“I can give you something for that,” he said as he scribbled out a prescription. “Give him just half a tablet a night”
Christine bought the tablets and that night I had half of one and fell asleep for about 14 hours. Understandably Christine was very worried and asked Professor Dennis Evens what he thought, he was a chemistry professor who was a great friend of hers. “Oh no Chris, that’s Valium. That doesn’t sound right, and that is a very big dose of Valium. I don’t think you are meant to give that to children”.
We stopped seeing Doctor Green and, as for the Valium, “I’ll have those to help me relax,” Christine said.
Many years later Christine had brought a flat in Bruce Grove, in north London, I had moved in to help her fix it up so it would have been around the year 2000. Christine would have been in her late fifties. The flat needed a lot of work and we were stripping walls, painting and even dealing with damp around one of the windows with Christine holding my belt as I leaned out of a second floor window with a silicon gun. One morning I was late for work, I can’t remember why, and Chris said, ”Jump in the car, I’ll drop you off.” We were in a hurry and when we got to the top of the stairs on the landing, she slipped. Christine was a few steps behind me so I was able to stop her from falling too far but she had already bounced down a few steps. She stood up said she was fine and we carried on jumping in the car and she dropped me at work. It was a few hours later I got the call from the hospital: my mother wasn’t very well.
When I arrived, Christine was still in accident and emergency. She was sitting up in a bed with pads on her chest and wires everywhere, checking her heart and with a mask on for oxygen.
Christine told me when she got home she couldn’t breathe, and that she had really hurt herself coming down the stairs, it had knocked all of the air out of her, but didn’t want to say. The hospital had done tests and they had found scarring on her lungs. “Emphysema or something,” she said.
It was the first time she seemed fragile to me, and this time I had to make sure she took her tablets and rested in bed. Christine didn’t like being looked after or being told what to do, so it was not long before she was up and about. Looking back I think something was different and her breathing was never the same.
Twenty years later I wonder what Christine would say about the website and all the work people are doing to clear her name, all the people trying to look after her now.
It has been a very busy week.
We now have a first draft of Christine Keeler’s “Petition for Mercy”. When looking at the transcripts from the original trial, police records, and newspaper reports from her later trial, I think there is a powerful argument that Christine should not have gone to prison on 1963. Pulling all the different stands together has needed a talented legal mind and I must say I would not be here without the humbling help I continue to receive. People can indeed overwhelm you with their kindness.
I am still asked why am I bothering to do this, “Isn’t it not enough that the BBC drama was nice about your Mum?” people have asked. In truth I have lots of reasons, like the grandiose: I believe it’s important for history to understand Christine’s motivation through much of the Profumo scandal. My closest friend told me this week that he thinks I am actually doing all this for me, as a last act of love.
My daughter, Christine’s granddaughter, told me about a boy who this week said to her, “Everyone knows boys are more important than girls. Girls don't matter, my Dad told me”
Nearly 60 years later, it’s like 1963, girls don't matter. That was Christine Keeler’s story in 1963. Lucky Gordon thought he owned her. The two witnesses to her assault felt no obligation after seeing a woman attacked in the street. John Hamilton-Marshall thought it was perfectly acceptable to talk about beating a woman. Stephen Ward posted bail for Lucky Gordon on the morning of her attack and he knew the danger Gordon posed to Christine.
All the men in that 1963 story thought woman were not important - they all thought boys were more important than girls. I have lots of reasons for doing all of this.
Back In January 2019 I wrote a foreword for the touring exhibition Dear Christine - A tribute to Christine Keeler. The exhibition was curated by the quite amazing Fionn Wilson and there is a page on the website dedicated to its art, music and poetry.
I like the idea of Christine Keeler being an inspiration for art and creativity, In fact I can’t think of a greater tribute than that.
When I wrote this forword I was in a different place - my mother’s death was still quite raw, articles and stories threw pity at her and not understanding. I was still mourning. It was the first time I had sat down to write anything about Christine. It was all too personal, even the flowers in this story were part of a silly argument we had had.
And here I find myself writing about my mother. It’s been over a year since she passed, and in that time she has never been far from my thoughts.
Like it or not, my mother is a sixties icon. She was terrifically famous in the early sixties, in fact, world famous. It’s not easy to appreciate just how big a story the scandal was, now that we look back. There’s a famous picture of her sitting on a chair, a chair that people now call a “Keeler chair” and she sits back to front on it in what is now called the “Keeler pose”. It is very strange to me that a picture of my mother sitting on a chair could be so famous.
She changed her name to Christine Sloane, so I never even met Christine Keeler. I grew up in the seventies where it was mostly just me and my mother, a single parent. I remember there being a lot of love, she was a warm and devoted mother who made a point of making sure I always knew I was loved. I’m not sure you can say a better thing about a parent. There were very few men in her life while I was growing up, and I’m sure she was probably lonely. We were poor, crushingly poor. I think we were wealthy when I was very, very young, but in the early 1970s something changed and that all went away - I think a lot of her friends did as well. We stayed in squats, the odd friend’s house and eventually a council flat. Being as poor as we were made the idea that my mum was famous frankly ridiculous, so I think it was only when the film Scandal hit the screen that I began to understand how massive the events of the early 1960s had been.
There was a cost in so many ways and she paid a price for all that fame. She could be sad, she could be angry or frustrated, but in all my life I never saw her afraid, even when she was sick. She was no coward.
All of that was more than 50 years ago and today there is an art exhibition and, honestly, I’m not sure what she would make of it all. Like all of us, she was still a bit vain and didn’t like pictures where she wasn’t young and beautiful. She could be dismissive of art when she didn’t like it or didn’t understand it, but she could always appreciate beauty in nature and life.
I have a painting up in the hall of three sunflowers - she brought it as a gift from a thrift shop ten years ago. I think a proud parent probably put it in the shop, because it is terrible, but there was something about it that she liked. For her, the three sunflowers meant family (Me, my wife and our daughter) and family meant something beautiful. So, as terrible as it is, I have it on my wall to remember her.
I think she probably understood art better than me.
I’d like to thank everyone who is paying tribute to my mother. She was a very brave woman.
What a lot of people may not realise is that these two witnesses, Fenton and Camacchio, both confirmed that Lucky Gordon had assaulted her. So Christine went to prison because she denied that the two witnesses were at the scene of crime, two witnesses who would have supported her story anyway.
Take an extreme example. You are attacked in the street then thankfully a stranger comes to help and the attacker runs away. The stranger, for whatever reason, doesn’t want to get involved. So when the police arrive you tell them what happened but you also say, “It was just me and nobody else was here.” Six months later you are the one in prison.
My mother used to tell me, “I was the first person to go to prison for not saying there was a witness who saw a crime,” and I bet she was the only person.
Once a week he would get his state payment and he would spend it all on a small amount of luxury food like smoked salmon, olives and taramasalata and sometimes he would visit us and we would eat. I think that made him happy.
Then one day Merid was watching a TV show, it was a show about Ethiopia and man came on claiming to be Merid Beyene, the grandson of Haile Selassie the last emperor of Ethiopia, claiming to be him.
Christine told me Merid asked for help, for somebody to confirm he was the real Merid Beyene but nobody would help, because that was all secret: “We can’t tell anyone we rescued an Ethiopian prince”
Then in 1991, not long after, Merid died of a heart attack. Christine seemed to think the pressure of losing his identity, of not being believed, was probably too much.
All these years later and thanks to the internet, with a little research I found some newspaper articles that covered his death but tell a different story:
“He escaped the persecution of the royal family in the 1974 coup because by chance he was out of the country at the time.
I can’t tell you which story is true, the one Merid told Christine, or the one in the papers. It occurs to me what if this isn't Merid’s story anyway? What if it’s the imposter’s story!
So remember the next time you are at the deli counter of your supermarket and there’s slight man in cheap shoes buying olives, he could be a down on his luck prince.
In 1976 Chris and I went to Brazil. Chris was always more comfortable bringing me everywhere with her and that meant I went with her to see a famous healer who had ‘magic hands’, he could reach into somebody’s body and pull out whatever poisons were making them sick and not leave a scar or even a mark on their body. It was all really exciting, there was lots of noise and flashing colours all around and a thick sweet smell in the air. It was nighttime and there was a crowd of people in a circle watching the man with the magic hands, he was wearing white. I remember Christine holding me tight.
Somebody was lying on a table in front of the man with the magic hands who was standing above them. Then with all the noise and the thick smell in the air he seemed to reach into their stomach and rummage about. There was a small pool of blood around his fingers as he was working and then he pulled out a piece of grisly flesh, lifted it up and showed everyone. It was disgusting. That night left me with a strong and vivid memory that I could never forget.
Chris would often tell friends the story and when I was still very young. I asked her what she thought about that night. “It was all rubbish, he had some giblets or something in his hand before be started - I could see them,’ and then she said, “Wish you had seen it.”
There was a pause, everything slowed down, I remember thinking through what she had said. “I was there,” I told Chris. I was there. I remember the smells, the colours, the little pool of blood around the wound, there not being a wound after he had wiped away the blood, but she told me how she couldn’t take me, and how there was no way they would let children go to that sort of thing.
“Then where was I?” I said.
“Don't know where you were, but you can’t have been there?” She said.
It doesn't change the story if I was there or not, one of us just forgot a little detail, and I was only five.
Anyway, I was there and I always won at Scrabble.
I have spent the last week going through the October 1963 press cuttings about Christine Keeler’s preliminary hearing for her trial for perjury, reading the differing stories the men connected to the trial told either the police, the press or the court. In truth I am left feeling a bit unsettled by all the mendacity and malice.
I don't want to upset anyone when I write this blog, but Christine’s life involved rape and sexual violence.
Growing up with Christine Keeler as my mother was mostly normal, getting up in the morning, sitting around watching television in the evening, but sometimes even just sitting around watching television could unlock something important about Chris and the person she was and hold a mirror up to what she went through. One night watching a TV movie in 1986 is still with me today.
It’s a film called Easy Prey and it stared Gerald McRaney who I recognised from detective show I liked called Simon & Simon, he played the part of Christopher Wilder, a serial killer known to have raped 12 women and murdered eight but there were probably many more.
The film focused on one of his victims, Tina Marie Risico, who was 16. Wilder posed as a photographer looking for models and tricked the young Tina into his van, abducting and raping her. Tina’s response to the situation saved her life, she didn’t fight, she remained calm. It was so unlike the other women who had screamed, cried or fought, the women Wilder had gone on to murder. There was something about young Tina and Wilder decided to take her with him, to keep her alive.
Either the film or Christine explained how this young girl had already been a victim of abuse.
The blurb on IMDb says of the story, “A young girl with Stockholm Syndrome becomes a companion of a dangerous man posing as a photographer to pick up his victims”
That wasn't the film we watched, that wasn't the film Christine watched, the film she so passionately identified with.
Wilder goes on to abduct another young girl, Dawnette Wilt. In the film young Tina tries to tell her not to fight, let him do what he wants: “You need to survive”.
I don't remember this being a story of a girl with Stockholm Syndrome, it was the story of a girl who wanted to survive. As the film come to an end, the police are closing in and catch their man, at an airport or train station and Tina survives.
That was when Chris started her lecture. I had heard it before, but this time we had watched a film as an example I could follow.
“Seymour, that girl was clever, she’s alive. Seems, - She used to call me Seems - if some man takes you and throws you into to the back of his car, just survive. If he is going to rape you, let him, don’t get murdered, it’s just sex...’ She laughed as she said it, but it was one of those strange laughs that people use when they are sad or afraid.
“If someone is going to put their dickie in you and you can’t stop them, then survive, you only have one life, and there are people who say ... men who say fight until you are dead, and Seems, that’s bullshit.”
I was a 14 year old boy, becoming a man, and found it difficult to identify with her words.
At the time we were living at the Worlds End Estate and there was a neighbour across the way, he had always made Chris feel a little uneasy. He always appeared at his front door when Christine was coming or going with plenty of small talk: “Morning, nice day, do you think it will rain?” Then one morning when I was at school and Christine was on her own, there was a knock on the door, it was the neighbour, and as Christine opened the door he tried to force his way in.
Chris told me “He was going to rape me and I knew it, but I shouted, OH MY BOYFRIEND!”
“It stopped him just a second, and he looked over my shoulder down the hall, and I pushed him back and slammed the door in his face”
Within a few months he was in prison for another sexual assault, and we would never see him again. It was only then she told me about what had happened.
I asked her if she had called the police. “No, you wouldn’t understand”
As for the film we watched, I’m not sure how close it was to the real story of Christopher Wilder and young Tina Marie Risico, and I haven’t seen that film since I was 14 with Christine and I’m sure I won’t watch it again. I did a little reading on the story and 16 year old Tina gets a bad press about helping Wilder abduct his next victim, but can you imagine what that was like for her, being that young girl afraid for her life who doesn't have the power to change the road she found herself on. Are we still blaming the victim for surviving? Because that wasn’t the film Christine and I watched.
I can’t be sure how many times Christine found herself in the situation where she just needed to survive. I know Lucky Gordon raped her on two occasions and I have a memory from when I was very young of a boyfriend pinning her down beating her while she begged, “Not in front of my son.”
Today I have a daughter, Christine’s granddaughter, what do I tell her?
Contributor “DC” poses the question - was this picture of Christine Keeler taken by Stephen Ward just as she was getting ready to meet Profumo?
The blogger behind the “Wimpole Mews blogspot“ claims to be the person Christian is looking at.
There are lots of conspiracy theories around the profumo story, it is one of the reasons why the story is still talked about today:
Why are Lord Denning’s papers on the Profumo scandal still secret and closed until 2048?
Who was the Man in the mask at the feast of the peacocks orgy? - Mandy Rice-Davies said it was Dr Savundra. Mandy wasn't even there, but Christine was.
Chief Inspector Samuel Herbert and his mystery £30,000 a number that sloshes through the story - was this really MI5 hush money?
The deaths of woman connected to the affair?
Like Christine used to tell me “There is only one way to keep a secret, tell no one”
The campaign to get my mother a pardon rumbles on and I hope to report progress soon. Again I would like to thank everyone for their continued support.
I found an old notebook of mine from sometime in the mid 1990’s. I had decided that I was going to help Chris write her book. Chris had been working on the story again as she wasn't happy with the previous versions.
There was the 1983 Nothing But... that she had worked on with respected journalist Sandy Fawkes. Now I only vaguely remember Sandy, but when I was ten she became the most interesting person I had ever met. It was one of those nights when the adults were all talking and I would sit and just listen.
When Sandy was travelling around America, she had met a good looking guy in a bar, "a cross between Robert Redford and Ryan O'Neal." They had had sex and then traveled together for the next few nights. Days after they parted company she saw the same man on the news and watched in horror as the story of serial killer Paul John Knowles (The Casanova Killer) unfolded. After his arrest he confessed to 35 murders, 20 of which were eventually linked to him. Sandy went on to write about her experience in Killing Time and again in Natural Born Killer.
At ten I just thought it was so cool. “What was it like?”
“The sex?” she said
And everyone laughed, because I was ten.
I have Chris’s copy of Nothing But... and she has scribbled, underlined and made notes all the way through. She wasn’t happy with it, but she didn't have a lot of choices back then, she was broke.
Then there was Scandal! the book that came out at the same time as the movie in 1989. I don't know if it was rushed, but it flies through the story, ends abruptly and Christine still wasn't happy. It wasn't right, bits were missing, people were missing, it just wasn't right. It didn't matter as the publishers went into receivership soon after its release and the book vanished.
Sometimes it’s hard telling a story that nobody wanted to be connected with - you would always be afraid you would be sued, and indeed the publishers were sued or court cases threatened for mentioning names.
In 2001 she went to print again with The Truth at Last, this time writing with Douglas Thompson, and she was much happier. Older, wiser, less easy to railroad. I remember we waited up all night for the papers to come out the next day so we could read the reviews.
In 2012, after John Profumo died, they updated it and called it Secrets and Lies. The definitive and final version came out at the end of 2019. with more on Lucky Gordon's criminal record and a foreword from me.
It has been said that Christine wrote four or five versions of the story, but that’s not true. It was always the same story, different only in small details.
I have missed out the best one, the version that Christine and I worked in the mid 1990’s. I was going to write her story but I was clear with Chris, “This book shouldn’t focus on the past because, that’s all boring.”
So I started taking notes:
“Seems, [she used to call me Seems] I wake up 8am, working on film and on the book,” she said. I don't know what film this was.
“I pop out to buy papers, have a coffee, read and bathe, and then I feed the birds. I like to pop out and do a bit of shopping, do a crossword in the evening and watch a true life film. I used to be a night owl, but in older age I’m buggered by 11pm”
“Chris, you hate going to bed early!” I said.
That’s as far as we got, I think we both gave up.
There was a time in London when Christine knew everybody. After being released from prison in 1964, everyone wanted to meet her; she went to all the parties and even had affairs with the famous like Warren Beatty and Maximilian Schell. In fact Christine’s fling with Maximilian Shell ruined my memory of the 1979 film The Black Hole, when she told me how the baddie in it used to be a boyfriend. At nine years of age my mother’s old boyfriends were gross, but he had also been the bad guy, he was the mad scientist who tried to kill everyone - I was so embarrassed.
She had an affair with George Peppard. Christine would say how maybe that could have gone somewhere, but he drank too much and she told me all of this after an episode of his TV show The A-Team. It was the early 1980’s, so I was young enough to be a bit disgusted.
“Mum, he’s an old man with white hair”
“We were all much younger then”
It didn’t ruin The A-Team in the same way as The Black Hole had been ruined, after all he was a hero in the show. I didn’t tell any of my friends that Hannibal from The A-Team was an old boyfriend of my mother’s. I don't think any of them would have believed me, also I always knew that these were her stories and not mine to tell.
At that time in London, the mid 1960’s, she knew everyone, Clint Eastwood used to drink in The Star Tavern in Belgravia, apparently “He was very quiet” and I am delighted she didn't say anything that ruined my enjoyment of the Dirty Harry movies!
With movies, Chris always enjoyed a good horror film and the more ridiculous it was the better, such as when the young girl in the film would say, “I’m just going into the dark basement...on my own.” She would shout at the television “No, no you wouldn’t do that, it’s stupid,” laughing, and then when the young girl’s head would come rolling across the basement floor, “Stupid, see how stupid that was!” She loved it.
One night in the early 1980’s she was all excited because she wanted us to watch a film on the TV called The Fearless Vampire Killers, made in 1967 by Roman Polanski and staring Sharon Tate. I loved the film. I was ten and it had vampires, beautiful young ladies and it was funny, but after the film Christine was a little sad: “The girl in that film used to be a friend of mine. When she lived in London we used to go to dinner parties and nightclubs, we were on the same scene together, and she was lovely, she was so nice.” Chris went on to tell me some of Sharon’s story, about Charles Manson and how she had been killed and her baby too, and how awful it was because she was so nice.
Sharon Tate had moved back to America with husband Roman Polanski but on 8th August 1969, at their house in Beverly Hills, members of the Charles Manson ‘Family’ murdered Sharon, her unborn child and friends Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski and Abigail Folger. Her murder is thought of as a turning point in American culture, a moment in history. Quentin Tarantino recently made a connected film called Once Upon a Time in America, a fantasy “what if?” story, what if those killers went to the wrong house that night, and they were punished so Sharon Tate, her child and her friends survived, putting right a terrible wrong.
I loved it, maybe a little bit because it was a light on Christine’s era when she had fun and the people she had partied with. While Christine liked a good horror movie, I’m not sure what she would have made of it.
It is said that Christine became a recluse after 1963 and tried to hide from the scandal, but that’s just not true, she was at all the parties, making new and interesting friends, and everybody wanted to meet the famous Christine Keeler.
Christine told me she was at a party with lots of famous actors, and Stanley Baker, from the 1964 film Zulu, said to her, “Christine, you are the most famous person here, we’re all actors and we will be forgotten, but you, Christine, you are in the history books forever.”