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John Profumo, Gary Hart and Pandora's Box

March 2006 By Denny Hatch
The End of Media Decorum

March 14, 2006: Vol. 2, Issue No. 20

IN THE NEWS

Scandal minister Profumo dies at 91

John Profumo, the man at the centre of the most notorious political sex scandal of the 20th century, has died at the age of 91 after suffering a stroke. Profumo, who spent four decades atoning for his disgrace, died peacefully at about midnight last night surrounded by his family, a spokesman for London's Chelsea and Westminster Hospital said. He had been admitted to hospital two days earlier.

The Independent, (UK), Online Edition, March 10, 2006


John Profumo, the central character in the most delicious British government sex scandal of the century—and on the front page of every newspaper in the world—had been off my radar screen ever since. In my mental inventory of newsmakers, he was presumed dead.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, I was startled to see his obituary online. The vision of a handsome, debonair British Secretary of State for War—with patent leather hair, a finely chiseled face and elegant attire—surfaced in my brain (http://politics.guardian.co.uk/politicspast/story/0,9061,471383,00.html).

What looked out at me was the portrait of a very old, wizened man with ghastly skin and a bald head with wisps of grey hair flying in every direction. (http://www.manchesteronline.co.uk/men/news/s/207/207325_john_profumo_dies_aged_91.html)

Suddenly raised were questions about the conduct of one's life and what effect errors in judgment can have on one's future.

Sex Scandals in the UK

For all its stiff-upper-lip reserve, an undercurrent of sexuality has always been rampant in Britain, from the 1888 seedy Whitechapel murders of Jack the Ripper right on up to the Royal Family, where over the years, the Princes of Wales have caused headaches and heartaches.

For example, Queen Victoria's son, Edward VII, was a libertine whose affairs were legendary. His most notable mistresses were the celebrated actress, Lilly ("The Jersey Lily") Langtry and Alice (Mrs. George) Keppel, whom historian Victoria Glendinning said had the "sexual morals of an alley cat," and whose great-granddaughter, ironically, is Camilla Parker-Bowles

Of course, very strict libel laws in the UK dampened the press's enthusiasm for reporting—or even alluding to—the peccadillos of those in power.
 

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