Sabrina Says Her Piece
Daily Mirror, 28 September 1956
By MARY MALONE
Up stood Sabrina, the "dumb" blonde. "I've been insulted," she said.
And she walked out of the banqueting hall— where 400 V.I.P. women were having lunch — because she was not allowed to make a speech.
It happened yesterday at the Savoy Hotel, London.
The Marchioness of Lothian, chairman of the "Women of the Year" lunch in aid of blind children, was about to announce the speakers.
Suddenly Sabrina rose from her seat between Lady Fairfax of Cameron and dress designer Miss Flora Rahvis.
She whispered her "I've been insulted" and walked to the banqueting overflow room.
There she explained: "About two months ago the lunch organisers asked me, through my business manager, if I would speak at the lunch,
"I was delighted. I got a drama teacher to produce my speech for me, and I've been learning it all summer.
"Then two weeks ago I was told that despite advertisements including my name among the speakers I was not going to be permitted to speak after all.
"I was so terribly disappointed that last night I went to see Lady Lothian at her Mayfair home. I pleaded with her to let me say my piece, but she just said "No."
"I came along today, hoping the organisers would change their minds."
Sabrina, wearing a tight-fitting black suit, tossed her golden hair and said:
"BUT PERMISSION OR NOT, I'M GOING TO MAKE THAT SPEECH ALL THE SAME."
Then, surrounded by the few guests in the room, Sabrina began:
"It is indeed a great honour to be here today surrounded as I am by so many distinguished people..."
A burst of clapping came from the main hall, where the Begum Shaispa Ikramullah, wife of the High Commissioner for Pakistan, was speaking on "How Can the Career Woman Lead a Successful Double Life."
Sabrina went on: "As most of you know. I was cast into the spotlight of fame on the crest of a gimmick, a lot of luck and somewhat unusual measurements..."
"Perhaps speaking here today should help in convincing the world at large that I can say the right thing in the right place..."
From: Rose Heilbron: Legal Pioneer of the 20th Century, by Hilary Heilbron
Rose was invited to the very first Women of the Year Luncheon held on 29 September 1955, along with other famous women of the time. It was the brainchild of the Marchioness of Lothian in aid of the Greater London Fund for the Blind. But the novelty of the first year’s invitation was eclipsed the second year, 1956, by the ‘Sabrina’ factor.
Sabrina, born Norma Sykes, was an internationally famous star of the time with a voluptuous hourglass figure who moved from being a ‘dumb blonde’, whose ample bosom became the butt of many jokes, to acting and appearing in shows. Rose was originally billed to speak alongside Sabrina and Rose’s friend, Dame Edith Evans. In the end neither Rose nor Sabrina spoke, the former, according to the Evening Express, because professional etiquette debarred a member of the legal profession from figuring in a programme which included a ‘spotlight personality like Sabrina’.