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Mandy Rice-Davies, Israel's glamorous import
Photo: AP

Remembering Mandy Rice-Davies, once 'queen of Tel Aviv nightlife'

Mostly known for 1963 scandal that rocked Britain, Israelis will always remember her as the woman who brought European charisma to their shores.

Mandy Rice-Davies, the British glamour girl who made aliyah and became a fixture in Tel Aviv's cultural life, died Thursday of cancer at the age of 70.

 

 

"Mandy was one of the most important people in my life, and an inseparable part of my family until the end," said her ex-husband, restauranteur Rafi Shauli.

 

Mandy Rice-Davies captured Israel's imagination with her style and personality (Photo: Getty Images)
Mandy Rice-Davies captured Israel's imagination with her style and personality (Photo: Getty Images)

 

Rice-Davis first came to the world's attention in 1963, at the age of 18, as one of two nightclub dancers at the center of the so-called Profumo affair.

 

The discovery that John Profumo, who served as Britain's war secretary, had shared a mistress – Rice-Davies' friend Christine Keeler – with a Soviet defense attaché caused an uproar that exposed many more improprieties involving the country's Conservative government.

 

One claim that arose in the ensuing court hearings was that Rice-Davies had slept with the aristocratic politician Lord Astor. When Rice-Davies heard that Astor had denied the incident, she reportedly uttered a famous line – "Well, he would, wouldn't he?"

 

Uri Avnery, former editor of the Israeli news magazine HaOlam HaZeh, was a friend of Rice-Davies. "The sentence she said in court became a classic," he said. The quip even became an entry in the Oxford Book of Quotations.

 

Rice-Davies arrived in Israel in 1966 after marrying Israeli businessman Rafi Shauli and converting to Judaism.

 

"She converted, married Shauli, and they opened the 'Mandy's Discotheque' that became the center of Tel Aviv bohemian life for years," remembers Avneri.

 

Together with husband Rafi Shauli, Rice-Davies opened popular nightclubs in Tel Aviv (Photo: Getty Images)
Together with husband Rafi Shauli, Rice-Davies opened popular nightclubs in Tel Aviv (Photo: Getty Images)

 

"She was the queen of nightlife," Avneri added. She had a unique personality, both beautiful and intelligent, with a terrific British accent. It was always a pleasure to converse with her. I liked her a lot and was sad to hear about her death. In our last conversation, she told me her life was 'one slow descent into respectability'."

 

Although their marriage dissolved after about a decade, Shauli said they never lost touch.

 

Rice-Davies became a mainstay in the gossip magazines throughout the 1960s (Photo: Getty Images)
Rice-Davies became a mainstay in the gossip magazines throughout the 1960s (Photo: Getty Images)

 

Shauli spoke to Yedioth Aharaonot 35 years ago, when he was the owner of the "Whiskey-A-Go-Go" disco, and told of his first encounter with Rice-Davis.

 

They met at the "Caliph" nightclub in Jaffa. "I saw her there and heard her sing," he said. "She was a mediocre singer. I worked up a lot of courage and approached her behind the scenes. As soon as I entered the dressing room, she got something in her eye. I helped her get rid of it." Two years later, their daughter Dana was born.

 

Rice-Davies was still a teenager when she was thrust into the spotlight (Photo: Getty Images)
Rice-Davies was still a teenager when she was thrust into the spotlight (Photo: Getty Images)

 

Israeli fashion designer Yuval Kaspin was inspired by Rice-Davies thanks to her European air, which stood in contrast to the prevailing style in Israel. "I was 20 and dressed differently from everyone," he recalled.

 

"Her unique style created a special bond between us. She was a huge star. She had something different and people were drawn to the British culture that she brought with her. That's why she got so much coverage in the news and the gossip columns. Nightclubs used to have singers, acrobats, and dancers– it was a job like any other.

 

"Although there were other nightclub dancers, she stood out thanks to her winning personality."

 


פרסום ראשון: 12.21.14, 00:38
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