936 THE ADVOCATE VOL. 75 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2017 But for gunshots ringing out at 17 Wimpole Mews in October 1962, the world might not have learned about Stephen Ward. He may well have remained a highly regarded osteopath to “many well known people” including Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Sir Winston Churchill and, of course, Lord Astor. He might well still be recognized for his considerable portraiture work of “people of much eminence” including Prince Philip and Princess Margaret. He might possibly have continued his hedonistic lifestyle together with his well-heeled friends in otherwise relative obscurity. Instead, he became the central figure in a Cold War political scandal that ended the career of the Secretary of State for War John Profumo and had even more tragic consequences for Ward himself. The gunshots were fired by a man named Johnny Edgecombe who was the jilted lover of Christine Keeler. Edgecombe was a jazz promoter with a long criminal record. He was part of a love triangle involving Keeler and another man, Aloysius “Lucky” Gordon. When Keeler tried to break off the relationship, Edgecombe found her staying at Ward’s flat at Wimpole Mews and fired off five shots at the front door. The police were called and with them arrived the press. With the press came many questions for Keeler. These facts alone were juicy enough: a celebrity osteopath’s beautiful young white friend was involved in a love triangle involving two West Indian gangsters resulting in gun shots being fired on a refined London Mews in Marylebone. Keeler started to spill some of the beans to the press as well as to members of the opposition Labour party (who started conducting their own investigation). When Keeler was a no-show for Edgecombe’s trial (she’d gone on holiday to Spain), this was sensationalized as a vanishing act printed next to a story about Profumo, a government minister, being a friend of unseemly Stephen Ward. The press insinuated but did not actually allege that Profumo had something to do with Keeler’s disappearance. Rumours started to fly. Christine Keeler had been a topless dancer at a London nightclub where she was “discovered” by Ward at the age of 18. Ward was a disturbing version of Henry Higgins who would find pretty, young women from impoverished backgrounds, spruce them up to become playthings for his influential (and much older) male friends and then sit back and enjoy the show. Seemingly he had (mostly) platonic relationships with the young women, but he enjoyed taking them to orgies where he was a keen onlooker. One of his other finds (at the same club he had found Keeler) was a teenaged girl named Mandy Rice-Davies. She was 16 when he first took her to Lord Astor’s Cliveden Estate about an hour outside of London.
Nov Advocate 2017
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