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Saturday, 11 March 2006
Profumo naff hair
"What have I done?" said Christine:
"I've ruined the party machine.
To lie in the nude
Is not very rude,
But to lie in the House is obscene."
Apologies for the silly title of this post. It is an attempt to link two themes - the 1963 sex scandal and bad haircuts.
My interest in the Profumo affair, which was before my time, was stimulated by the 1989 film "Scandal", starring Joanne Whalley as Christine Keeler, Ian McKellen as John Profumo, John Hurt as Stephen Ward and Bridget Fonda as Mandy "well he would, wouldn't he" Rice-Davies. 
All the ingredients were in place to make this an excellent film: sex, politics, the English upper class, corruption and the Cold War. The subject matter was certainly interesting, but the film was hit and miss. My criticisms, in increasing order of importance, are as follows.
  1. The sound track, with music of the late fifties and very early sixties, made me realise how badly the England of the time needed the Beatles. Some dreadful song with the words, "she looks like an angel looks, and cooks like an angel cooks" springs to mind.
  2. Bridget Fonda is a good actress but she is American and sounded it. I believe they tried to get Emily Lloyd but failed. She would have been much better. What happened to her?
  3. Most importantly, John Profumo's hair was an amusing distraction. The real John Profumo had a receding hairline. Playing him in the film, Ian McKellen, at the time folically favoured,  was described thus by a reviewer on the site linked above: 
"The man who would later play the twin icons of Gandalf and Magneto and become a homosexual knight of the realm was featured as the ill fated Profumo in Scandal, and the sight of his oddly shaven head, with a top knot of hair left at the back to look like an extremely receding widow’s peak, is one of the weirdest (...) you will ever see in world cinema."  
Unfortunately I can't find a picture. If you have seen the film, you will know what I'm talking about. Nevertheless, Ian McKellen's hair grew back and in real life it looks quite normal. Why he was wasting his distinguished hair in Mark Ravenhill's The Cut  is anybody's guess.
No, when it comes to bad haircuts, McKellen's Profumo recedes before Peter Stringfellow's mullet:

Any film footage from the Seventies will reveal bad haircuts aplenty, especially among men. Presumably there are hairstyles around now that will seem just as ludicrous in twenty or thirty years' time. The crowning glory, however, must go to Phil Spector, in this picture from a few months ago. Please look carefully and try to remember if you have ever seen anything quite so alarming. Note, particularly, his impassive face, quite at variance with his deranged mop:


Posted on 03/11/2006 7:24 AM by Mary Jackson
12 Mar 2006
Send an emailjohn utting
hi,didnt phil spector find himself on a murder rap over killing a woman or was that burt bacherach? or both of them? john

11 Mar 2006
Send an emailEsmerelda Weatherwax
Is that Donovan or Leo Sayer?

11 Mar 2006
Send an emailJuan Golblado
That is much worse than anything Mick Jagger ever did. I prefer Donovan with big hair, but there's something about grey hair that doesn't want to be big, I think.

11 Mar 2006
Esmerelda Weatherwax
I do remember the scandal, although I was too young to understand it. When I was told the joke Q "What do Christine Keeler and Christine Truman (Wimbledon finalist 1961) have in common? A they both have a racket, I innocently remarked, Oh does is this Christine Keeler also going to play tennis at Wimbledon? Butif you want a politician with dodgy hair they do not come much better than Tarzan aka Michael Heseltine I found a good photo but couldn't get it to copy in. This link will have to do