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The saga of Sabrina is one to give heart to many a stage-struck teenager with a yen to see her name in big, bright lights. They tell you it takes years of hard work and heartbreak before you can ever hope to get anywhere near the top in the world of show business, but don't believe all they tell you. Didn't Sabrina get there in about one short month?
In was 1954 when Norma Ann Sykes came down to London from her native Blackpool to try her luck in the great metropolis. Could she then have known just how far she was to go in so short a time?
It must have been obvious to people wise about the influence of shape in show business that a measurement of 41"-22"-35" belonging to a natural blonde could not go unnoticed for very long, and Miss Sykes was soon making regular appearances in the glossy pin-up magazines. The real break was to come when theatrical agent Bill Watts took a good look at her, then another—then reached for his pen, and wrote her name very quickly into his books. Now when you're young, blonde and you've got those kind of measurements — and your agent is Mr. Watts — you can guarantee that things are going to start happening — if not to-day or to-morrow, then immediately.
What happened in Sabrina's case was that just at this time TV producer Bill Ward was looking for a girl for the "Beauty Spot" feature in Arthur Askey's TV series BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES, and when Sabrina's photograph appeared on his desk—along with 23 others—he decided his search was over. The rest is a history of what statistics can do to a TV screen.
All that the TV stint required was for the lady to stand around registering glamour, and that just came naturally to a girl like Miss Sykes — henceforth to be known by no other name than Sabrina. Not a line of dialogue was spoken by those lovely ruby lips, and here was living proof that "silence is golden." Opinion has it that physical attributes such as Sabrina's make speech quite superfluous anyway.
There was no possible doubt as to whether TV audiences liked Sabrina—the answer was in the hundreds of fan-letters, including an average of fifty marriage proposals, that started pouring in each week.
Sabrina, however, was determined not to remain just another dumb blonde. She applied herself with her usual north-country vigour to singing lessons during the day, elocution lessons during the evening, with lessons in deportment fitted somewhere in between.
After the TV series a sixteen-week variety tour was lined up for Sabrina, and this had her topping the bill after only four hours rehearsal! Eager and anxious to prove to the public that she had talents in addition to a very insurable shape, it was a big disappointment to Sabrina when she discovered that all she was required to do was to drape herself decoratively against the side of the stage while cross-talk comedians wove their gags around her. Since then, of course, Sabrina has had a chance to show her fans she really has a voice — and knows how to use it — and TV and radio appearances have had her using her vocal chords (sic) as well as her physical charms, and that means both the audience and Sabrina herself are very well pleased. Sabrina particularly. She paid a lot of money for those elocution and singing lessons! Currently she is wowing the customers nightly at the Prince of Wales Theatre, where the audiences have a chance to see in person what they could hardly believe was true on TV.
It might well be said of Sabrina that she is the girl who has launched a thousand shops. Her personal appearances have been many and varied, ranging from presenting prizes at a Garden Fete to opening a furniture store in Leeds. On the latter occasion, there were so many people eager to catch a glimpse of the girl with the figure that sets men gasping and girls reaching for the exercise chart that mounted police had to be called out to control the crowds.
The law had to step in again at Newcastle when, opening a self-service store, Sabrina threw photographs of herself to the crowd—and started a minor riot! For these appearances Sabrina can command anything up to £100 [£2410 in 2017], and, as one company director said, she's worth every penny of it. There was also, alas, the never-to-be-forgotten occasion when the rush of admirers nearly left Sabrina sans built-in dress—such is the tearing impact when this fabulous frame confronts her fans in person.
Wealth and fame have come early to Sabrina, but she still retains a very down-to-earth sense of values. As long as the public clamours for her — and they show no signs of ceasing — Sabrina will be there. But meanwhile she is investing for the future, which — in show business — must always be uncertain. She has acquired a costume jewellery factory,
and takes an active interest in the business, designing many of the pieces herself. She also realises just how valuable those 41 inches are, and has taken the precaution of insuring her shape for a cool £100,000. If you care to work it out, that means something like £2,439 an inch! And a slight correction to a well-worn phrase, which should now read "Inches are a girl's best friend."
At one early stage in her pneumatic career—as the cynics call it — Picture Post, which was then still an influential weekly magazine, confirmed the establishment of Sabrina as a star of a very inimitable kind by starring her in a documentary feature intended to convey that Sabrina herself realised the prospective limitations of her body beautiful, and was devoting a large part of her time in pursuit of culture of a more aesthetic type.
Photographs of Sabrina appeared, showing her browsing through encyclopaedias and other ponderous tomes with concentrated and serious determination. If she has kept up this kind of study Sabrina's general knowledge should have reached a level where she would be able to sweep the board at quiz shows, and even enable her to find the answer to the 64,000 question!
It seems inevitable these days that top flight glamour girls should come equipped with an unslakeable thirst for culture. Remember Marilyn and her penchant for Dostoievsky? But with Sabrina this yen for knowledge is more than just a fad — it's yet more insurance against the future.
This is a young lady who's determined to have any number of spare strings to her bow. We can't somehow see her pleading for the lead in THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, but if she was asked —and she thought it would do her career some good — we reckon she'd have a shot at it!
Publicity and Sabrina are synonymous—and in show business publicity is an all-important factor. Young starlets will do almost anything to rate a picture in one of the national newspapers and magazines — they'll ride to a premiere in a wheelbarrow if necessary — but with Sabrina she just doesn't have to do anything but arrive.
Everything this girl does is news — which is fine up to a point, but not much fun if you're looking for an off-the-record evening with a new date. You just can't get away from the news hounds—they pop up in the most unlikely places!
Witness Sabrina's recent and frequent dating of American star Steve Cochran. It was certain that Sabrina found Steve's company very congenial, and no doubt that Steve thought Sabrina a great girl to know. But every time the pair appeared in public they were dogged by men carrying cameras and notebooks, and press-men had them walking up the aisle more than a score of times. To her credit, Sabrina never came across with the corny line "We're just very good friends", but she is reported as saying "Steve has been married twice before, and I don't want to be third at anything."
Whatever the reason, the romance just quietly faded away, and now Sabrina is currently seen around with Tommy Steele's enterprising young manager.
Always a girl to speak her mind, it's obvious that there's one point on which this twosome will agree to differ, namely Tommy's vocalising. "Tommy's a very nice person." says Sabrina— but she's apt to be a little less enthusiastic about his singing!
What the future holds for Sabrina is, at the moment, anybody's guess. Films, TV, more variety bookings? One thing is certain, Sabrina will not be content to rest on her reputation as it stands at the moment.
It is quite likely her career will take the most astonishing twists and turns, and may even land her on the "straight" stage. We don't really suppose her future plans include a season at the Old Vic, but with a girl like Sabrina you have to be prepared for anything — and what a boost she'd give to the role of Lady Macbeth! No correction, we said boost and we meant boost!
Sabrina with a feather motif arrives at the Warner Theatre for the premiere of MOBY DICK
This One Had To Be!
No story of Sabrina could be complete without this shot to illustrate how she made the grade with viewers.
Page Created: 3 March 2007
Last Changed: Sunday, September 17, 2017 1:37 PM
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