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.”