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Friday, September 11, 1998 Published at 14:08 GMT

Profile: Lewinsky sees name in lights

In her high school yearbook, Monica Lewinsky, the young woman at the centre of the Clinton sex scandal, was voted girl most likely to see her name in lights.

The prophecy came true. Having caught the eye of US President Bill Clinton four years ago, her name was central in the scandal which threatened to bring down one of the country's most popular leaders this century.

But where did "that woman", as she was described by President Clinton, start out, who is she and what does the future hold for her?

Monica Lewinsky's upbringing in Beverly Hills was not so much silver spoon as 24-carat gold. She went to Beverly Hills High, a school that drips money. The road outside is crammed with expensive cars, invariably belonging to the children themselves.

The Lewinsky family always travelled first class. The children had private tennis lessons at a cost of $720 a month.

[ image: Ms Lewinsky and her father, Bernard]
Ms Lewinsky and her father, Bernard
The family spent more than $1,800 a month on psychiatrists' bills and $2,400 a month on clothing for Ms Lewinsky and her brother, Michael.

Friends and neighbours describe Ms Lewinsky's father, a doctor, as hard-working and successful, and her mother as stylish and well-bred. But when Ms Lewinsky was 14, they separated.

It was a messy divorce, mainly revolving around achieving a financial settlement.

During the investigations into Ms Lewinsky's involvement with the president, her mother accused her father of violence towards her and the children.

School days

After the scandal broke, some former school friends came forward to say that Ms Lewinsky had a bad reputation at school.

[ image: Ms Lewinsky:
Ms Lewinsky: "A bit emotional"
But others remember her as a sweet and polite girl, who took a very keen interest in acting and drama.

She even returned after graduating to continue helping with the school's theatrical productions. But it is said that she was eventually asked to leave.

There are conflicting accounts as to why. One version is that the request came after it was revealed that she was having an affair with a married teacher, Andy Bleiler.

The teacher later moved to Oregon, where Ms Lewinsky went to college.


[ image: Ms Lewinsky and President Clinton: The famous hug]
Ms Lewinsky and President Clinton: The famous hug
Former friends at college remember her as "very friendly and very flirtatious" but also "a bit emotional".

She was very conscious of her physical appearance, in particular her weight, but was always well-presented.

Through her mother's high-profile connections in New York, Ms Lewinsky managed to land a job as an unpaid intern at the White House.

When she first arrived in Washington she worked in the office of the Chief of Staff. By 1997 she was working as a secretary to Defence Department Spokesman Kenneth Bacon.

Telling her story

It was a high-profile position for a 24-year-old. Now of course she is one of the most famous people in the world. The scandal sent the media, as well as several movie makers, clamouring for her story.

Bidding among publishers for a book about her relationship with the president started at $10m.

[ image: Ms Lewinsky's story is hot property]
Ms Lewinsky's story is hot property
But for the duration of the impeachment trial, Ms Lewinsky kept as low a profile as she could.

Only in the closing days of the trial, when senators watched extracts from her videotaped trial testimony, did the public finally get to see her telling her some of her story. She did so with a calm assurance which impressed many.

Ms Lewinsky's spokeswoman, Judy Smith, told reporters after her Grand Jury testimony: "Ms Lewinsky is really looking forward to beginning the process of rebuilding her life."

But it looks as though plans to do that might include reliving parts of the last year.

After the trial, Ms Lewinsky is contracted to give an interview to Channel 4 in the UK in which she would discuss her relationship with Mr Clinton.

She is also planning a book telling the story of her affair with Mr Clinton, to be written by Andrew Morton, author of a controversial book about Princess Diana.

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In this section

Profile: Lewinsky sees name in lights

Key figures in the Senate trial

Vernon Jordan: Smooth operator

Sidney Blumenthal: Starr witness

Kenneth Starr: Bullyboy or crusader?

Betty Currie: Innocent or enabler?

President Clinton's best defence

Tough Hyde

Sex and the White House

Linda Tripp: Friend and foe