Jane Asher (born 5 April 1946) is an English actress, author and entrepreneur, who achieved early fame as a child actress, and has worked extensively in film and TV throughout her career.
She has appeared in TV shows and films such as The Masque of the Red Death, Alfie, Deep End, The Mistress, Crossroads, Death at a Funeral and The Old Guys. She is also known for supplying specialist cakes and kitchenware, as well as publishing three best-selling novels. She was a key figure of 1960s show business society as well as a girlfriend and muse to Beatle Paul McCartney.
On 18 April 1963, the 17-year-old Jane Asher interviewed the Beatles at Royal Albert Hall in London, England and began a five-year relationship with Paul McCartney. In December 1963, McCartney took up residence at Asher’s family Wimpole Street town house and stayed there until the couple moved into McCartney’s own home located in St John’s Wood in 1966. McCartney wrote several Beatles songs inspired by her, including “And I Love Her“, “You Won’t See Me“, “I’m Looking Through You“, and “Here, There and Everywhere“. McCartney and Asher announced on Christmas Day 1967 that they were engaged to marry, and in February and March 1968 Asher accompanied the Beatles and their respective partners to Rishikesh to attend an advanced Transcendental Meditation training session with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In mid-1968, Asher returned to London from an acting assignment in Bristol earlier than expected and caught McCartney in bed with Francie Schwartz. A fan who frequently hung around Paul’s Cavendish Avenue home claims to have witnessed the incident, saying “…Paul brought this American girl home…[and a little while later]…another car turned into Cavendish Avenue — it was Jane. She’d come back…earlier than she was supposed to. Jane went into the house. A bit later on she came storming out again and drove away.” Shortly after, Margaret Asher drove to Cavendish to collect her daughter’s things.
On 20 July 1968, Asher announced publicly to the BBC that her engagement to McCartney had been called off, an announcement that shocked many people, including McCartney himself. At the time of Asher’s announcement, McCartney was at his father’s home with Schwartz by his side. McCartney, who had not been formally broken up with before the announcement, had been publicly dumped on television. Though Schwartz has confirmed that Asher did see them in bed together, she claims that she was not the sole reason for the breakup, and that the couple were on the verge of breaking up prior to Asher walking in. Other people, such as Hunter Davies and Barry Miles, state that the relationship always had major problems, one of those being that McCartney wanted Asher to give up her career after they married, an aspiration of his that Asher would not comply with. Another prevalent problem in the relationship was McCartney’s drug use and womanizing. After returning to London from a five-month acting tour of the United States in May 1967, Asher found McCartney to be completely different, confiding in Davies that McCartney had “changed so much. He was on LSD, which I hadn’t shared. I was jealous of all the spiritual experiences he’d had with John. There were fifteen people dropping in all day long. The house had changed and was full of stuff I didn’t know about.”
Since the breakup, Asher has never spoken about her relationship with McCartney. Being asked about it irritates her, as she stated in 2004: “I’ve been happily married for 30-something years. It’s insulting.” She did attend the London premiere of the Beatles’ last movie Let it Be along with John Lennon‘s former wife Cynthia, though none of the Beatles were in attendance.
Asher met the illustrator Gerald Scarfe in 1971. Their daughter Katie was born in 1974. They married in 1981 and they had two more children, sons Alexander (born 1981) and Rory (born 1983).
In 1969, her father, Richard, committed suicide at the age of 57. Her mother, Margaret, died in 2011 at the age of 97.