Vicki Martin and The Maharajah of Cooch-Behar

The photographer George Harrison Marks married Vivienne Warren his second wife in 1963. According to The News of the World at the time Vivienne Warren was the sister of Vicki Martin. I haven’t been able to confirm this. George was notorious for making things up. Different surnames and a big age difference between them raises some questions, however, her story is an interesting one nevertheless. If anyone knows any more please add to the post with a comment.

Vicki Martin was Born Valerie Mewes in 1931. She was best friends with Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in the UK (1955). The pair had both worked at Murray’s Club in Soho, where Stephen Ward, of the Profumo Scandal, later met Christine Keeler. Stephen Ward claimed to have met Vicki Martin in a doorway on Oxford Street during a thunderstorm. Ward produced many female protégés and apparently Vicki Martin was the prototype. She was also a friend of the Maharajah of Cooch-Behar, whose horse racing colours, were once prominent on the British turf. Vicki had an affliction for car accidents. Apparently she had 12 of them over four years and was killed outright in her 13th crash.

Vicki Martin, the sister Vivienne Warren and the girlfriend of The Maharajah of Cooch-Behar.
The Daily Telegraph, January 1955. Thanks to Casper for the scan.

She one of two people killed when the car she was driving collided with another vehicle on the Henley road near Maidenhead, Berkshire (January 9th, 1955). The cars met almost head-on. Miss Martin and the driver of the other car were killed outright.

Miss Martin’s companion, was the Canadian Terence Robertson, author of a number of books and the first proponent of the Jack the Ripper victim Fairy Fay. He claimed Fairy Fay was a murdered in the alleys of Commercial Road on Boxing Night, 1887 while taking a short cut home from a Mitre Square pub.

In the other car were the newly weds Mr and Mrs David Salisbury Haig who were returning from a dance in London. Mr Haig, who was 41, was killed and his wife was injured. They had been married only six weeks. Mr Haig was a scientific officer of the National Coal Board.

The wrecked cars were found by Sir David Salt, of Cookham Berkshire. “The girl was dead on the road,” he said, “and I have since wondered how she came to be on the road because the door of the car was shut.”

Vicki and the Maharajah of Cooch-Behar had met at a film party for It Started in Paradise (1952), a British drama set in the world of haute couture. Vicki played a model in the film. The actress, Kay Kendall, who was a friend of Stephen Ward’s, also had a part.

Film poster for It Started in Paradise (1952) an unusually plush, Lana Turner-esque British production.

Vicki and the Maharajah were both injured in July 1953 when the car in which they were travelling was involved in an accident with a van near Baldock Hertfordshire. They were returning from the races at Newmarket. The Maharajah of Couch-Behar received a severe head injury and Vicki Martin was detained at the hospital with leg injuries.

After the accident, she spoke of her romance with her Indian Prince. “I am so very fond of him as I feel he is of me. But there is little hope of our romance coming to anything , she said. “You see, it is the Tiger’s mother, by the way, I call the Maharajah “Tiger’ and he calls me “méchante’, French for naughty girl, who is putting her foot down”.

The Maharajah of Cooch-Behar first marriage took place privately at Cooch-Behar, 1949 to Nancy Valentine of New York, a former screen actress, which is a complete other story.

His second marriage was to the London model Gina (Georgina May) Egan in 1956. Gina played a beauty queen contestant in the British film Lady Godiva Rides Again (1951). Vicki Martin’s friend, Ruth Ellis, had a walk-on part in the same film. Diana Dors and Joan Collins also appear.

On January 31, 1970, Terence Robertson took his own life in a New York hotel room. At the time, he had been commissioned to write a history of the notorious Canadian Jewish Bronfman family but had found out things they didn’t want him to write about. The Bronfman’s made a fortune selling alcohol to American gangsters during Prohibition. Terence Robertson was found in his room minutes before he died of barbiturate poisoning.

Vicki Martin lived at 75 Cadogan Place, Chelsea, London.

Film poster for Lady Godiva Rides Again (1951), released in the United States as Bikini Baby.


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82 thoughts on “Vicki Martin and The Maharajah of Cooch-Behar

  1. Sorry should have added that the Mothers name was Reynolds, they had another daughter in 1932 called doreen and one in 1945 called Vivienne.

  2. A few other facts I’ve come across since writing the above post.

    Vicki Martin’s funeral was on 14th January 1955. She was cremated at at the West Chapel of the Golders Green Crematorium and the her ashes laid to rest Englefield Green, Cemetery. The card on the wreath from the Maharajah of Cooch Behar read “Goodbye to Mechant my love Tigre”. The funeral guests included Doreen Mewes (Vicki’s sister), the young Jaipur Prince, son of the Maharajah of Jaipur, The Marquis of Milford Haven and band leader Paul Adam. A chap called Peter Kafataris gave evidence at the inquest into her death.

    1. To j thompson viviane was the daughter of margaret warren nee reynolds. Her first marriage was to mr mewes daughters valerie and doreen. This is quite true as i am their cousin. I lost touch with viviane years ago but would love to find her. Eva simmons nee reynolds

      1. I was best friends with Viv and her brother Cliff and moved to London a few months after Viv did. Does anyone know what happened to Viv? I heard that Cliff died very young, in his twenties of a drug overdose and I never knew him to take drugs. Viv just disappeared. Now that I have read “Who Killed Vicki Martin” by A .P. Wolf, I understand why.

        I moved to America, soon after Viv married George Harrison Marks and lost touch with her. She always knew where I and her other BF lived in Staines, Middx. and how to get in touch with us. We tried for years to find her.

        I can still see her beautiful face and smile
        , her whitest teeth and shining eyes. She was a knock-out.

        1. I vaguely remember that Viv’s dad had a flower shop in Staines. I think he died before I met Viv.
          When I moved to London and Viv married George Harrison Marks, they had an apartment in St. John’s Wood. I stayed over there a couple of times.
          If anyone knows what happened to Vivienne, I would really like to know.

    2. So many were interned or cremated at Golders Green Crem – Richard Wattis was one, who had starred in LADY GODIVA RIDES AGAIN in 1950’s :

      Paul Adam band leader seems an interesting character from those days there are a few interesting articles about him on the web if ones searches avidly enough. His wife was the actress from Dr No – Zena Moyra Marshall [which was news to me] :

      Peter Kafataris [mentioned above], his photo crops up on the web in a Mirror-Photo page. He is attending Vicki’s/Valerie’s inquest at Maidenhead in the 1950’s.

      Marquis of Milford Haven – which one ?

  3. Eva…. think that confirms the question asked in the first paragraph that Vivienne was in fact the(half) sister of Vicky Martin.

  4. Congratulations, it is nice to see a piece like this on the internet, although there is a lot more information available which could complement this.

    I too am vaguely related to Valerie Mewes (Vicki Martin) and would be interested in hearing from anyone that knows any more about her (I have been researching her lifedeath for over a decade). Also happy to share information with anyone with a serious interest.

    As you point out, Valerie was not only friends with Stephen Ward but she was also best friends with Ruth Ellis (the last woman to be hung in England), they lived together, worked together, partied together and died within a short time of each other.

    Also at Valerie’s funeral was the film producer Kenneth Harper (he produced Yield to the Night and wrote the book which accompanied the film ‘Dance with a Stranger’ many years later), his wife gave evidence at Valerie’s inquest.

    Kafataris was manager at the club which Valerie and Robertson had been to on the evening of her death.

    Valerie died in a car accident, Terence Robertson took his own life, Doreen Mewes died in a fire (bizarre circumstances), Ruth Ellis was hung and Stephen Ward ‘took his own life’.

    NB The 13 car accidents story is not quite true – Valerie had two reported accidents (13 presumably sounded ‘unlucky’ to whoever wrote the original story).

    Ps Yes – Vivienne, Doreen & Valerie are all related.

    1. Thanks for that. Great stuff. If you would like to write a guest post by all means let me know.
      Don’t suppose you have a photo of Valerie I could included in my post?

    2. dear Stephen Ward Speaks, I’m from the Netherlands and
      i have a big collection on Stephen Ward ( original sketch of Dirk Bogarde from 1951) and i’m very interested in Valerie Mewes. I bought some pictures of her from mirrorpix. Her grave is still at Englefield Green Cemetery, Egham. (Plot 20 / Grave 65) I have a serious interest in her life and death and i sincerly hope to hear from you

      1. Dear Sir, I’m a French writer of more of 35 books (you’ll find information wikipedia at my name, DANIEL LESUEUR). I’m presently writing a book which cover the full period of Ruth ELLIS + Stephen WARD. I should be very interested to get in contact with you.

    3. Hi,

      I know this is an old comment, and you may not see this at all, but I was wondering if you would still be happy to share information on Valerie’s life? I’m lucky enough to have earnt her role in the play The Thrill of Love, and I want to ensure I play the role as accurately as possible, plus the more I look into her character the more intriguing her life seems. Any help you could provide would be much appreciated.

      Thank you,
      Olive Holding

  5. Hello – Yes, would love to write a guest post; am sure I can pull together some scraps of information which haven’t been published anywhere else! Is there some way of contacting you other than by comment on this thread?

    I do have some photographs of Valerie as a model, unfortunately I don’t own the copyright to them so I would caution against publishing. However, I do have some photographs of Valerie and her sister Doreen when they were younger and the copyright will have expired on those.

    Ps You have a great blog here, very interesting.

    1. I would be interested to know what part of the family you are related to as I dont know of any surviving family other than vivienne if indeed she is still alive last I heard she went to canada to live.

      1. Hello Eva,

        As far a I am aware, Valerie Mewes has at least two cousins that are still alive.

        I am related to one of those cousins.

        Hope that helps.

        1. Thats good to hear you must be on her fathers side as my family is all that is left on her mothers side it has been a very tragic family . Kind regards Eva

          1. You are correct Eva.

            Yes, very tragic indeed; Valerie & Doreen particularly but I know there were others.

            My ‘academic’ interest lies specifically with Valerie – am happy to share my research with you if you would like to get in touch privately.

          2. I wish I could help you with information about Valerie but was about 8 when she died so cannot remember her I only knew Vivienne and Doreen. The Maharajah kept in touch with my Grandmother for years but they are all dead now. I would dearly love to find Vivienne as she was the same age as me
            Regards Eva

          3. Hi Eva…I think we met when I was writing about Ruth Ellis. Hope you’re well. Monica Weller

    1. There is a nice b/w photo of Valerie/Vicki in this book, which I have read twice over the years. From what I can remember she is wearing a jumper and in natural pose, ie not a professional photo as such.

    2. If one writes VICKI MARTIN into the search box of above Mirror-Photo page or any other on this site, one comes across quite a few photos of the 1955 Vicki Martin/Valerie Mewes inquest at South Street in Maidenhead during 1955 [no longer there]. A local historian recently told me this :

      “I have an old street directory for Maidenhead and it shows that there was a South Street connecting Broadway and Brock Street. I think this is roughly around the area where the multi-storey car-park on the east side of Broadway now is and the street would have been developed out of existence in the 1960s/70s.”

      In the selection there are quite a few photos like the one above of Vicki/Valerie in modelling mode.

      There are a few of those attending the inquest at the time; some mentioned on this blog.

      There is one of Doreen Mewes being driven away in a car from the inquest. Doreen is briefly mentioned on this blog.

      There is a very intriguing photo of an unfinished portrait of Vicki/Valerie by an artist called BASCO LAZOLLO, who isn’t even registered within Google [try it out]. Does anybody who knew Vicki/Valerie or her family know whether this painting was finished at all ? Then again finding out who the artist was and where he was/is would be a start. Was he a Home County based artist or was he from elsewhere in the UK or was he from Europe and hence painted abroad ?

      The mystery thickens it seems ! I am in the Sherlock Holmes Society of London and would love to call on Sherlock to help, but he is very busy at present and Dr Watson is always on holiday with his new wife.

      These photos are worth a look in case nobody already has yet.

      1. Could it be the artist Vasco Lazzolo I wonder, where there is loads of info on the internet ?

  6. What an interesting blog – I came across a photo of Valerie and her story in a book about Stephen Ward a few years back.

    There was an interesting documentary about Stephen Ward on BBC R4 at 8pm on 25th May [see BBC iplayer].

    I wrote a book about Richard Wattis who starred in LADY GODIVA RIDES AGAIN.
    I am doing research on Diana Dors also at present.

  7. Extraordinarily, Vickie Martin/Valerie Mewes left over £2000 in her will in 1955.

  8. Hallo monica mum died 2007 I still miss her so much it was very sudden so she would be able to answer so many questions I rememer the painting it was completed but Doreen sold it. I would like to get hold of Vivienne as she is the last member of my Auntie Margs that is alive but I dont think she would be interested. Kindest regards Eva

    1. I have found two very interesting newspaper article links about George and Vivienne on the net which I have put up, under j thompson’s comments [under third comment from the very top]. In the one newspaper article it says Viviene is the sister of Vicki Martin.

      The painting is shown in the the link to the Daily Mirror website above – either mirror-photos or mirrorpix [put Vicki Martin in the search box when you get onto the website].


    With a new musical about Stephen Ward on the horizon, coming on top of the 50th anniversary of the Profumo Affair on 5th June 2013, plus the fascinating link I have just found above, perhaps the question should be, who didn’t know Stephen Ward, rather than who did ?!

    Who tickles our fancy the most over the years I wonder regarding the players in the Profumo Scandal – is it Stephen, Profumo, Christine Keeler, Mandy-Rice Davies, or is it the shadowy George Wigg :

  10. Seems Ward frequented Mag’s Coffee Shop in Cookham on a regular basis during the 1950’s, as Cliveden was just down the river from the small town. He sometimes had use of Lord Astor’s boat and he sometimes turned up with beautiful women/models on his arm and often on his own, and sketched people in the coffee shop. People liked him and he was quite popular.

  11. You mention Cookham. Mewes died there, on the Henley Road. The Squire of Cookham found her body. Allegedly. He wasn’t called to the inquest. Mewes wasn’t at Clivedon on the night of her death. She was at Chez Peter in Remenham. She telephoned Ruby Lloyd from there shortly before she died saying someone was out to get her.

    Robertson wasn’t who he said he was.

    Vasco Lazollo was the painter of the portrait, also known as Victor. He was friends with Ward and Baron the photographer and member of the Thursday Club. It was finished.

    There are new calls to have Ward pardoned. Presumably they haven’t looked into his relationship with Mewes yet.

  12. My mother Margaret was a good friend of doreen and frequented many parties and social events of the time. She also had her portrait sketched by Stephen Ward who was quite a gifted artist apparently. If anyone would like any information please get in touch. Simon Perkins.

    1. I am a cousin of Doreen Mewes and trying to contact Vivienne Warren her half sister do you know anything about her other than her connection with Mark Harrison who she divorced?

      1. I think she married a musician after she divorced George. She was friends with the model Ann Walker. She may know more. I’ll try and get in contact with her.

      2. Dear Casper
        I read that you have pictures of Valerie Mewes. Do you have other info? I’m very interested. I would like to contact with you.

        1. Dear Lulu

          contact the people who run this site, they have my email adress and it’s okay they give it to you


  13. Dear readers

    i have the film “I STARTED IN PARADISE” can anybody tell what part VICKI MARTIN played and what she looked liked in the movie. I’m NOT sure i recognice her in the movie.

    1. She played Jenny the model. Only appears at the end of the film and it’s not a speaking part.

      1. dear Rupert,

        first of all thanks for your comment. I have the color version of the movie. I don’t recognize Valerie Mewes. Can you make a still of the movie with Valerie Mewes on the screen. I have a still but i’m not sure if it’s her and i don’t know how to upload that picture

  14. Hi Caspar & Daniel LESUEUR. I am also interested in Valerie Mewes and know a fair bit about her. What is the best way of contacting either of you for further discussion?

  15. Hi everyone,

    I came across this post as I am playing the part of Vicki/Valerie in an upcoming production on stage in East London. i am extremely interested in hearing what Valerie’s life was like before she was famous and any information in general. I found this post really good so hoping someone can give me more than what is shown here. I want to build her character to be as truthful to her as it can be.

    Thank you for your time

  16. HI Katie, my mother Margaret new Vicki quite well mainly through her sister Doreen(they where best friends).If you would more info please get in touch. Regards Simon.

  17. Hi Katie,my mother Margaret new Vicki quite well,mainly through her sister Doreen (they where best friends). If you need any more info please get in contact. Regards Simon.

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