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Encyclopedia Sabrina (Norma Ann Sykes)

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Bazza: the adventures of Barry Crocker

Sometimes remembered as the dim, drunken larrikin Barry McKenzie, what interests us about Barry Crocker is that he mentioned Sabrina in his autobiography (pages 193-6).

We arrived in Auckland in early May [1959] to begin our stint with the Tivoli’s production of Pleasures of Paris starring the new sensation, Sabrina. David N. Martin had created this latest luminary — as he’d done in the past with unknowns like Margo the Z Bomb and Shirley Bassey, he had invented their successful ‘backgrounds’ to build a market for them in the southern hemisphere. Using a vast publicity machine he would generate so much excitement and expectation that Australians and New Zealanders quickly accepted them as genuine stars, even before they’d put a foot on our shores.

Sabrina, in reality, was just another pretty girl from Blackpool who got lucky! As a child she had contracted polio and spent a long time in hospital. She was no prettier than your average model or showgirl, but God had blessed her with a sensational upper body. Although she would forever bear the scars on her legs from the calipers she’d worn as a child, her forty-inch bosom tapering down into an eighteen-inch waist meant that the eye seldom ventured further than her hips.

Sabrina and Bazza
David Clark, Sabrina and Barry Crocker (right)

Sabrina could neither sing, dance nor act but she looked gorgeous. The Tivoli had built a wonderful variety production round her to help create a magnificent illusion. Other stars of the show were compere Billy Baxter, a fresh young English comedian; England’s (although they were Irish) clown princes of comedy, Syd and Max Harrison; prima ballerina Nancy Speirs; Jackie Monier, France’s number one drag queen; a brilliant cast of dancers, and now... Crocker and Clark!

We backed up Sabrina in the singing segments and David also was commandeered to play a straight role in a scena, a big production piece. Nancy Speirs, the prima ballerina billed as from London although actually an Aussie, bore an uncanny resemblance to Sabrina. The tall blonde possessed a beautiful dancer’s body and I truly believe management had chosen her in the belief that the punters may think this incredible dancer was Sabby.

When we all went our separate ways after the Perth season of Pleasures of Paris it felt like the disintegration of a family. David and I had made many friends during the run, some we would work with again, and others who would become fading memories.

Sabrina went on to make several highly paid commercials for engine grease. These classic ads are still in the archives and are often trotted out to display to the public the anatomical talents of the Tivoli’s superstar. I heard very little about her after she left Australia, but I think she had been satisfied with her ‘fifteen minutes’. The rumour that she married an American pilot and settled in the States is probably true. Sabby, for all that glamour and fun in ‘59, I thank you!

Listen to Barry Crocker recall his days in Melbourne and Adelaide in the Tivoli with Sabrina - including how he became her manager.

 

The American pilot theory is an interesting new wrinkle in getting Sabrina's destiny wrong.

Page Created: April 24, 2005

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