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The Weekly Sporting Review & Show Business
No.930, Thursday 18 April 1957
THE night of Saturday (April 20 ) is an eventfully historic occasion in the life of contemporary revue theatre, in particular, and show business, in general. For one reason. Because, in company with experienced show-stoppers like GEORGE and BERT BERNARD, a young, all-round veteran, DICKIE HENDERSON, and the madcap THREE MONARCHS, a totally inexperienced (by comparison) young blonde is taking the stage to star in "Plaisirs de Paris," the latest Follies at the Prince of Wales Theatre. And the question of the hour in "show biz" circles is will she make it, or will she flop? I hope she makes it — I mean SABRINA, the lassie from Lancashire, whose pictures decorate our pages.
But against that I know other reactions. And why not Sabrina? She's got the looks and the figure. We can't have a Frances Day or a Bea Lillie every other work. This girl can't be expected to eclipse pros that have been going the rounds for years. Or artistes like Barbara Kelly who stay at the top through sheer, hard work coupled with ability which has been forged pure in the shop of experience.
That's what I say. What has Sabrina done? What has Sabrina got?
Well, it's been YOU talking not me, because I know better than to get tied up in readers' rows. I am keeping this side of the paper.
But once I started writing about her I knew that sort of chatter would begin. No kidding. I'm no mind-reader. Nor astrologer. I'm an historian, if you like. The fact is that when Sabrina's name comes up what I've written above happens. I've heard it.
Just try it yourself if you don't believe me. Say, "I see Sabrina is in the new Val Parnell, Bernie Delfont show," and wait for your listener's reaction. If it's a man, he will go straight to the point and talk about Sabrina's outsize measurements. In fact, he may never get past discussing them. I don't blame him because we shall be doing so later on. Though not for quite the same reason.
If it's a woman, she will probably do the same. Except that the bust will be deflated after two sentences.
But whether the comment is unfavourable or otherwise — and we won't define that word — I'll bet my second best bed that nobody, nobody that's got blood in his veins, will accept that Sabrina is at the Prince of Wales from April 20 without saying something.
Sabrina has a shrewd counsellor in Joe Matthews from Lambeth, her guide, photographer and friend. Joe has a keen eye for summat that looks like “getting there.” And Joe should know his onions as well as his busts, because he's been rooting for Joe amongst the stars long enough.
A couple of years back no one had ever heard of Sabrina. She was less than a nonentity. She came to London from Lancashire with two things. A bust and a dream. That makes one. Because you can't live on dreams.
The dream is interesting because it happens to be part of the Sabrina make-up. Early in life she was a polio sufferer at a hospital in Blackpool, where she does NOT come from, incidentally, her birthplace being outside Manchester. And there she spent moments of her three years thinking about the stage. All right, she was stage-struck, if you want it like that. But later on she began to translate those dreamy days into pounds, shillings and a flat in Hyde Park, with a car thrown in.
Her dreams have come true. She hopes and believes the rest of them will follow suit. That's why she takes everything in her stride. Like the song, says, "Whatever will be, will be." Sabrina reckons to become a star.
That settles the dream. The bust was a more practicable proposition because it presented possibilities for modelling. And there is one man in Town who has an eye for girls with figures. I'd even say that most of them whose pictures provoke our passions come from Bill Watts. His eyesight never grows dim as the years roll on. Mr. Watts knows a GIRL as opposed to a girl when he sees one. And when Bill saw Sabrina her capital possibilities struck him immediately.
It was an Arthur Askey TV series (see picture) that brought this pulsating piece of feminity [sic] to the public's attention. She didn't say a word. She didn't need to —as far as the Sabrina future was concerned. Her bosom spoke volumes and DID THE TRICK. It (or they) became her passport to fame.
And why not? Marilyn Monroe captured our fancy with a wiggle. Jayne Mansfield by a needle-sized waist, topped by an outsize bust. So Sabrina does the same. There's nothing professionally (or morally) dishonest about that.
There's not much point in splitting theological hairs amongst folk who don't believe in theology anyhow. And just to show you that "my passport to fame" phrase wasn't exaggerating, when she first came here Sabrina tried for a chambermaid's job at the Grosvenor in Park Lane. She didn't get it. They said she was too much of an eyeful for such a chore.
New Year's night 1955 saw her the guest of honour at the same hotel, walking down the staircase with the dignity of a princess about to review her court. I shan't forget Monday, July 4, that year in a hurry. Sabrina made her variety debut at the Chiswick Empire. Her name was in large letters above Arthur Worsley's. Out front several unnamed gentry were spitting blood. Here was—virtually —an unknown topping a variety bill. It needed a brand of Sabrina courage to carry it off, especially when the topper can't do a darn thing.
Amazing when you come to think of it. But it happened. And while her friends may argue black and blue that it was an unwise step, Sabrina, for all that, still means business. When I say business I'm not talking through my hat — even if you argue the patrons are, because this girl with NOTHING but a figure can get 100 guineas to open a garden fete.
She can also attract people to Sunday concert spots. There's no doubt about it, SEX SELLS TICKETS.
A short time ago she went to Thoresby Hall in the heart of Sherwood Forest. Even the Sheriff turned out. Sabrina, who likes designing her own dresses and wears a different one for successive functions, attracted scores of photographers and people to this, the largest of the old-time estates.
At a Variety Club luncheon this dumb blonde astonished the listeners by making a well-worded speech and conducting herself with the dignity of a lady of high standing.
Not long after when at a Woman of the Year similar "do," where the organisers refused to allow her to speak, she had her own press conference in an adjoining salon where reporters and columnists heard what she had intended to say next door.
Sabrina is NOT an ideal housewife (I use that term loosely). She likes cooking what she likes cooking, if you see what I mean, but it stops there. Sabrina is NOT Mrs Mopp the Second. She likes furs and frills and the cosy, soft things that cling and make a girl good.
Her eye is kept firmly fixed on FAME, not the fame of a girl who enjoys a fine figure, but that earned by competent playing. That is why she's been swotting up everything she should know a theatre and cinema.
Her daring attempt to reach the starry-skies doesn't make her professionally better than anyone else. But it is worth the plaudits of everyone who has the life, laughter and tears of this precarious business at heart.
HARRY MEADOWS COLUMN
ON AND OFF THE RECORD
by Sidney Vauncez
Editor SIDNEY VAUNCEZ with SABRINA prior to her first recording on the CONQUEST label.
Screen, Stage, Radio,TV, Variety
SABRINA AT SCHOOL!
Lawrence Wright Reporting
SABRINA AT SCHOOL!
WHO is that pretty little girl in gym slip and tight black stockings I see in the school playground? She looks familiar. Why, bless my soul, it's none other than Miss SABRINA herself, with her curves carefully hidden under a regulation school uniform.
SABRINA - How d'ya like a form like this?
Yes, Sabrina has joined St. Trinian's, that monstrous school invented by artist Ronald Searle and perpetuated on the screen by producers Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat.
Remember "The Belles of St. Trinian's," featuring Alastair Sim as the headmistress?
Well, down at Shepperton you can now hear blood-curdling yells as a hundred female wolves swoop down on any visible males who come on the set of "Blue Murder At St. Trinian's," the comedy sequel to the first record-breaking picture.
Frank and Sidney have gathered studios, together some priceless St. Trinian’s types as well as some of the prettiest youngsters in British studios.
Alastair Sim again stars as the "Head," aided and abetted by George Cole, Terry-Thomas and Joyce Grenfell.
And, joining the pupils, that gang of female fiends in human shape, is The Shape itself — Sabrina.
This will be her second film appearance. Her first was in Butcher's "Stock Car" three years ago, in which they dubbed her voice with another actress's voice because Sabrina's was "too North Country."
"They won't do any of that on this picture, Sabrina assures me. " It's in my contract that they have to keep my voice if they want to use my body. That's fair enough, isn't it?"
I'll say it is. But as far as I'm concerned,
Luckily for you, we have one of the limited quantity Sabrina Albums available for your inspection - Ed.
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