Pamela Digby Churchill Hayward Harriman
The Ultimate Courtesan
Randolph Churchill, son of the future prime minister, would change
Pamela Digby's life forever. Randolph was just what Pam was looking for;
hot-shot journalist, man-about-town and a budding politician in his own
right, he whisked Pam off to The Ritz fo a night of dinner and dancing. By
the end of the evening, Randolph had proposed to her and Pamela had
On the 4th October 1939, three weeks after their first date, Randolph
and Pamela were married to the horror of of Pam's friends who had warned
her that Randolph was trouble.
Randolph was a womaniser, he drank too much, he gambled too much and
he was a very difficult person. Michael Dobbs, author of Churchill's
Hour says "Pamela knew that once she had the name Churchill she had
something that was going to last for the rest of her life".
By May 1940, it was clear that Winston Churchill was the man of the
hour. With German tanks rolling through France and the British army in
full retreat, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain fell on his sword. The
task of steeling Britain's nerve through its darkest hour now fell to
In August 1940, Pam cemented her ties with the most illustrious
family in Britain by producing a health baby boy.
The son would carry
the name Winston in honour of the great man himself. Pamela Digby would
always be a Churchill now. She was about to become more useful to
Winston than either of them could have imagined.
By early 1941, American war aid was flooding into Britain but,
despite his show of bravado, Churchill knew American aid alone would not
be enough and although she didn't know it, Pamela was about to play a
crucial role in her father-in-law's plans.
With President Roosevelt wavering, Churchill targeted the President's
top man in London, Averell Harriman, for special attention. He was a
very handsome, hugely wealthy man, whose family owned Union Pacific
Railroad. If he could gain Harriman's ear, Churchill would gain a direct
route to Roosevelt's inner circle. A glittering dinner was laid on for
the American at the Dorchester Hotel and Churchill had the perfect
escort to make him feel welcome.
During the dinner there was an air-raid. Averell was very taken with
Pamela and invited her to his room rather than going to the bomb shelter
which began a rip-roaring wartime affair. Pamela had launched out on her
very own special relationship and it was one that would tie Roosevelt's
man, intimately, into Churchill's sphere of influence. It was the start
of an extraordinary relationship that was very useful to Winston. Pamela
would routinely report back with Harriman's views.
Edward R. Murrow
In the spring of 1942, Randolph returned home on leave. With Pamela's
affair with Harriman the talk of the town, her cuckold husband lashed
out accusing Winston of encouraging the liaison. Pam's affair would
signal the end of her brief marriage.
In December1941, Winston Churchill finally got his wish. The US would
now be fighting shoulder to shoulder with Britain and Churchill made
sure the onerous duty of looking after the high-ranking Americans, who
poured into London, fell to Pamela.
The broadcaster Edward R. Murrow wasn't the richest American in
town, but his nightly reports from the rooftops of bomb-torn London made
him the most glamorous. With Murrow, Pamela discovered something new
within herself; the ability to love.
In the spring of 1945, while the allies gave tanks for the victory in
Europe, Pam and Ed began to celebrate their own happy day. Murrow had
proposed, a liaison destined to fail as when Murrow returned to the
States to arrange a divorce from his current wife, he discovered she was
pregnant with their first child.
In the spring of 1947, Pamela, moved to Paris; the finishing school
for the coutesan. Now divorced and still only 27, Pam was free to throw
herself into the liberated world of post-war Europe and the most
eligible playboys were soon bidding for Mrs Churchill's special favours.
Pamela would devote the next twelve years to perfecting the silky skills
By chance, she met Gianni Agnelli, heir to the Fiat Motor Company.
Agnelli was one of the richest men in Europe with a string luxury homes
from St Moritz to St Tropez. Gianni Agnelli was the archetypal playboy
with a taste for fast cars and high-stakes gambling. Pamela would devote
five precious years to luring the so-called uncrowned King of Italy to
the altar. But is marriage was a business transaction for Pam, it seemed
the art of closing the deal had deserted her. Gianni was catholic and
Italian, Pam was neither. Gianni dumped her despite her being pregnant.
He insisted she have an abortion which was carried out in Switzerland.
Pamela had notched up over a decade as Europe's top good-time girl,
but what had begun as an escapist paradise was fat becoming a dead-end.
At nearly forty and in danger of becoming a laughing stock among the
European jet-set she fled, in 1959 to New York in search of her own
Within a matter of days, Pamela had homed in on her next jackpot, the
legendary Broadway producer Leland Hayward. With five marriages already
to his name, not to mention affairs with Greta Garbo and Katherine
Hepburn, there was no doubting Hayward's taste fro romance. With his
latest marriage on the rocks, Hayward was ripe for plucking. On the 4th
May 1960 at a quickie wedding chapel in Nevada, Pamela Churchill finally
closed a deal. After a honeymoon in Vegas, Pamela threw herslf in into
her new role as the ultimate English trophy wife.
Pam would devote the next ten years to pampering her workaholic
husband, but she was also taking good care of herself. Pamela had extremely
expensive tastes and was burning her way through her husband's fortune
and was determined to protect it from the attentions of his family.
In February 1971, Leland suffered a massive stroke and was rushed to
hospital where he died four weeks later. The family gathered for the
reading of the will and were horrified to find that the fortune had
In March 1971, the day after the funeral of her second husband, Pam
made contact with Averell Harriman. Averell was now 79 years old, richer
than ever and recently widowed. 30 years after their wartime romance,
Pam and Averell picked up where they left off. In that time Averell had
been American Ambassador to the Soviet Union, a presidential candidate, Governor
of New York and confidante to JFK. Just six months later they were
married. Pamela had finally found a husband with a wallet to match her
With Harriman on her arm, Pam set about transforming their Georgetown
home into Washington's greatest political salon. With Pam as
choreographer-in-chief cash was soon flooding in to the Democratic Party
chest ready for the next presidential race.
Pam would use her communication skills, contacts and womanly wiles to
help boost the coffers of the new candidate and her support and
popularity would help Arkansas would-be governor, Bill Clinton, to a
landslide victory. In return for this, Clinton repaid her by making
Pamela US Ambassador to France and by 1993 she was back in Paris not as
a courtesan but as a woman of substance.
Hour - Michael Dobbs
Glory: Life of Pamela Churchill Harriman -Sally Bedell Smith
of the Party: Biography of Pamela Digby Churchill -