British call girl who became Tel Aviv personality dies at 70

Mandy Rice Davies will be remembered in Israel for her time in Tel Aviv, where having converted to Judaism to marry an Israeli businessman she moved to open and manage a series of nightclubs.

By JERRY LEWIS
December 21, 2014 01:06
3 minute read.
tel aviv

Tel Aviv. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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LONDON - Mandy Rice Davies, once described as a high class prostitute who with her colleague Christine Keeler, almost brought down the British Government in a major sex scandal in 1963, has died from cancer aged 70 on Friday.

She will be remembered in Israel for her time in Tel Aviv, where having converted to Judaism to marry Israeli businessman, Rafi Shauli, she moved to open and manage a series of nightclubs including Mandy’s, Mandy’s Candies, and a restaurant, Mandy’s Singing Bamboo. She also gave birth to her daughter, Dana.

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The restaurant became highly popular among the many journalists covering the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In an interview she gave subsequently she said that what she liked best was “setting things up, choosing the menu, doing the décor and finding the chef,” adding, “I love the opening party.”

Rice-Davies was born in Wales and was taken by her parents to be brought up in Birmingham.

Because she looked older than her age, at 15 she was chosen to be a clothes model in a department store.

A year later she moved to London and worked as a dancer in a Soho club, where she met Christine Keeler.

Keeler, however, was a highclass prostitute whose extensive range of contacts included Britain’s Secretary of State for War John Profumo. However, she was also bedding the Soviet naval attaché. When rumors of her liaisons emerged in the press, Profumo was forced to deny the stories to both then prime minister Harold Mac- Millan and to MPs in the House of Commons.



When the potential threat to national security of Keeler’s “pillow talk” emerged days later, Profumo was forced to explain his extra-marital sleeping arrangements to MacMillan and then face an angry Commons chamber, where his apology for lying led to his inevitable resignation.

The Profumo affair almost derailed the government and MacMillan never really recovered from the scandal, which dominated the news for weeks on end.

Rice Davies’s involvement emerged after reports of sex parties being held at the country home of Lord Astor at Cliveden involving other senior personalities.

One of those named was an osteopath, Dr. Stephen Ward, who it was claimed had introduced Keeler to Profumo at a Clivedon swimming pool party where many of the high society guests were enjoying naked dips in the water.

Ward was later charged by police with pimping and it was during his trial that witness Rice Davies was asked to comment on the denial given by Lord Astor that the two of them had slept together.

“Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?” was her response, which brought laughter in the courtroom and subsequently enhanced fame for Rice Davies, when the phrase was added to a dictionary of quotations.

Rice Davies went on to become a cabaret singer and performed in a number of countries until she met Rafi Shauli and moved to Tel Aviv.

Her marriage eventually foundered and she returned to Britain, where interest in the story was reawakened by the film Scandal in 1989. Her last husband was a British businessman, Ken Foreman.

After co-authoring her autobiography, she wrote a novel and several other books and appeared in a number of television and film productions. She was once reported as describing her life as “one slow descent into respectability” though it subsequently emerged that she had never actually met John Profumo.

Last year theater impresario and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote and staged a musical about the life of Stephen Ward, which again brought Rice Davies into the public eye. She died after a short period of illness from cancer on Friday, leaving her last husband and daughter.

In a tribute to her, Lloyd Webber described how he found her a very intelligent woman with whom he held discussions on a wide variety of topics, ranging from history to art. “With a different throw of the dice, Mandy might have been head of the Royal Academy or even running the country. She became a dear friend and I will miss her,” Lloyd Weber said.

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