MUHAMMAD Ali, Richard Harris, Cybill Shepherd. Keith Havard has had them all in the back of his car.

In 37 years of chauffeuring the famous to their film and TV jobs, Keith got to know many of them.

It was a career whose high points included answering his car phone to Elvis Presley and being taken to dinner by the world's greatest boxer and Elizabeth Taylor.

Keith's first brush with celebrity came in the late 50s, thanks to his looking like pop star of the day Billy Fury.

After a group of girls wrote to the star's management to point out the resemblance, Keith became the star's official double, used to help Billy avoid screaming fans at the stage door.

The job led to his first brush with the film world, when he accompanied Fury to Pinewood Studios for the shooting of Play it Cool, directed by a certain Michael Winner.

Some time later, Keith ran into someone from his council estate in Edgware, Middlesex, who was a chauffeur. He applied for a job with the same firm and was taken on for £18 a week before moving to another employer for £28 a week.

His first job with a film star was taking David Hemmings to the set of Alfred the Great, and he later drove Peter O'Toole for the musical of Goodbye Mr Chips, as well as Barbara Windsor, Roger Moore and Max Bygraves.

In 1966, he was hired by Columbia Pictures and became chauffeur to John Van Eyssen, the former actor who had become managing director of the studio's British arm.

He remembers arriving early with Van Eyssen for an appointment in central London and spotting Ingrid Bergman laden with Selfridges bags.

"She was struggling and Van Eyssen rushed to help her," Keith recalls in a memoir he has written for his family. "She said hello' in that wonderful voice of hers.

"I thought she was more attractive in real life than on screen.

"She was really beautiful in fact."

Through Van Eyssen, Keith got to know Richard Harris, and sometimes took the actor's sons to school.

"He had a bit of a reputation for being a hell-raiser - and I'm sure he was in his younger days - but I always found him friendly, heart-warming and extremely good company," he remembers.

In 1974, Keith set up King's Car Hire at Elstree studios. He found himself chauffeuring young actress Cybill Shepherd at the time she was having an affair with Elvis Presley.

"One day I was driving her to the studio when I received a phone call on my mobile.

"When I answered a man's voice, deep and with an American accent, asked if I was Keith," he says. "I told him I was and he went on to ask if Miss Shepherd was in the car.

"I told him she was - and then nearly dropped the phone when he said to tell her that Elvis was on the phone. He was so nice and polite, a real professional."

He met another of the 20th century's biggest entertainers, Bing Crosby, while working as Bob Monkhouse's chauffeur.

"He was a most polite and charming gentleman, with very smooth manners and easy to talk to," Keith says of Crosby.

It was in 1979 that Keith was asked whether he would be free to drive Muhammad Ali during a trip to London.

He picked the boxer up from Heathrow and recalls: "He asked me how Enery' was and if he was still splashing it all over' - at the time Henry Cooper, his old opponent, was doing a very well-known advert for aftershave."

Ali asked Keith to drive him to pick up a friend, and Keith was stunned when the guest turned out to be Elizabeth Taylor!

The pair insisted on Keith dining with them in the West End, and Keith recalls his trip back to Heathrow with Ali: "On our journey I told him that I had driven more than 300 stars - actors, singers, pop stars - but that he really was The Greatest."

In the 1980s, Keith moved to Bournemouth, where he became a neighbour and friend of AFC Bournemouth's then-manager Harry Redknapp and later became a vice-president of the Cherries. He sold King's Car Hire, which by then employed 39 people and owned a fleet of cars and motor homes.

But he returned to chauffeuring in 1998 to drive for Donny Osmond when he was appearing in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He then drove Robbie Coltrane for the first Harry Potter film - and had to turn down an invitation to drive for Richard Harris on the same film.

After suffering a stroke recently, Keith moved into a Hampshire nursing home, where he wrote his memoirs.

Among the good wishes following his illness was a card from Robbie Coltrane depicting the Flying Scotsman. The actor wrote: "Mr Havard, I am the flying Scotsman and with you as my driver I get everywhere on time."