Mandy Rice-Davies, key figure in Cold War scandal that rocked British politics, dies at 70 - InfoNews

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Mandy Rice-Davies, key figure in Cold War scandal that rocked British politics, dies at 70

FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 30, 2013 file photo, Mandy Rice Davies, former model and showgirl, right, poses with actress Charlotte Blackledge, who plays her in the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical 'Stephen Ward', during the show launch photocall, in London. Mandy Rice-Davies, a key figure in Britain's biggest Cold War political scandal, the “Profumo Affair,” has died. She was 70. Her PR firm said Friday Dec. 19, 2014, that Rice-Davies died Thursday evening "after a short battle with cancer." (AP Photo/Sang Tan, File)
December 19, 2014 - 2:15 PM

LONDON - Mandy Rice-Davies, a key figure in the "Profumo Affair," a sex-and-politics scandal that rocked Cold War Britain, has died at age 70.

Her PR firm, Hackford Jones, said Friday that Rice-Davies died Thursday evening "after a short battle with cancer."

Rice-Davies was an 18-year-old model and nightclub dancer in 1963 when her friend Christine Keeler had an affair with War Secretary John Profumo. Keeler had also slept with a Soviet naval attache, and the resulting collision of sex, wealth and national security issues rattled Britain's establishment, almost toppled the Conservative government and fascinated the nation.

The scandal led to pimping charges against Stephen Ward, a well-connected osteopath who had introduced Keeler to Profumo at a country-house party thrown by aristocrat Lord Astor.

During Ward's trial, Rice-Davies was told that Astor had denied her allegation that he had slept with her. "He would, wouldn't he?" she replied from the witness box. The phrase became famous and Rice-Davies' sparky spirit endeared her to the public.

Rice-Davies later performed on stage and in cabarets in several countries, ran a chain of restaurants in Israel and married three times to wealthy men.

She never escaped the shadow of the 1963 events, which were thrust into the spotlight again in 1989 with the movie "Scandal," which starred Joanne Whalley as Keeler, Ian McKellen as Profumo and Bridget Fonda as Rice-Davies.

"If I could live my life over, I would wish 1963 had not existed. The only reason I still want to talk about it is that I have to fight the misconception that I was a prostitute," Rice-Davies once said.

However, Rice-Davies agreed to revisit the scandal to help Andrew Lloyd-Webber with his 2013 musical "Stephen Ward," which depicted Keeler, Rice-Davies and Ward — who took a fatal drug overdose the night before he was found guilty of "living off immoral earnings" — as victims of British Establishment hypocrisy.

Lloyd Webber said he would miss a "life-enhancing," well-read and intelligent woman.

"I will always remember discussing with her over dinner subjects as varied as Thomas Cromwell's dissolution of the monasteries and the influence of the artist Stanley Spencer on Lucian Freud," he said.

Despite being seen as a symbol of 1960s hedonism, Rice-Davies said the decade's reputation for sex was overstated.

"In those days, there were good girls and there were bad girls," she told The Associated Press last year. "Good girls didn't have any sex at all, and bad girls had a bit."

News from © The Associated Press, 2014
The Associated Press

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