A word from the SabrinaMaster
This site began at nylon.net in 2000 as a tongue-in-cheek single page to complement the Goon Show pages. It was never meant to get this big, but its size, I guess, is proportional to the assets of its subject. Even if she was not a great artiste, she was certainly a great pioneer and phenomenon of modern celebrity. This is what this site celebrates.
I have made it a personal quest to discover everything about Sabrina. I call it a research project into the role of the internet in archiving memes and preserving our shared social history. Other people call it pathetic and sad... anyway! If you've read this far, you obviously agree with me, so to hell with the others.
She was a model, TV hostess, actor, singer, stage performer - and had no talent. Even she admitted that. Why then, was the Western world and the bearded president of Cuba so keen to see her that - at one time -10,000 people in Perth caused an airport terminal to collapse? Why did The Goon Show audience wet themselves whenever Spike Milligan slipped another reference to Sabrina past the BBC censors?
Like most of the male world (albeit 40 years after the event) I was intrigued by the lass. Were they real? (Yes, and they were insured). Who was she? (Norma Ann Sykes.) How did a bed-ridden teenage Cheshire girl end up as an international icon of femininity who rivalled Jayne Mansfield, Diana Dors and Marilyn herself? Why did she cause hysteria that made young people of all sexes literally push Frank Sinatra out of the way to get her autograph?
Those questions, and more, are the subject of the SabrinaStuff Site.
It was fascinating - even more so because casual web searches yielded next to nothing about this media tornado who blew across at least 3 continents and seemed to leave no traces a generation later.
It became a challenge. Could a woman like Sabrina leave traces on the Internet 40 years later? Just how much information could be found - using just the Internet - on an obscure celebrity with no talent? A casual web search, and input from alt.fan.goons found her real name: searching for "Sabrina" on the internet found at least 40 certified film actresses, 13,203 cats, 1 teenage witch (comic book and TV cartoon) and 2 films (with Bogie and Harrison F).
This was getting interesting - from an investigative point of view. I soon managed to locate every known picture of Norma 'Sabrina' Sykes on the entire Internet. I thought the job was done. Then the son of a woman who knew baby Norma emailed with her early life story. Another gent emailed with her professional history. Link led to link as her TV shows, plays, boyfriends, continents became known.
The breakthrough came when "Sir H" (as he is fondly known here) mailed me a massive collection of primarily Australian publications from 1954 to 1962 featuring Sabrina. After developing 'Scanner Elbow' and 'Mouse Cramp' I began to wonder if Sabrina were going to take over my 100M of website space just as she took over the post-war trouser-enabled generation.
I have received Sabrina photos, memories, facts, figures, opinions (and quite a few calls for the nurse to draw the screens) from all quarters and walks of life - but there is still a mass of Sabrina stuff out there that needs to be collected and collated. How did Norma Ann start? Where are the first photos of her modelling? There is no record of her after 1969 when she was filmed in 'The Ice House' and a 1974 appearance on 'This is Your Life' to celebrate Arthur Askey.
If anyone out there has any more information about Norma Ann 'Sabrina' Sykes, please let me know. Norma: if you're out there and online, please call home on 1800-NYLON. We miss you, and need to know you're all right now the storm has passed.
20 April 2003: Sabrina finally did phone home.
8 August 2013: it is with regret that I draw a line under the "Make a Sabrina Site" item in my 'To Do' List. After 13 years pursuing the incredible, I have to admit that if there is any new Sabrinastuff out there, it's bloody well concealed.
I found the holy grails: her 1957 vinyl recordings, those playing cards, the naughty nudie photos, her birth certificate... The only thing I hadn't found was a copy of the movie El Pistolero Fantasma (The Phantom Gunslinger) - but that arrived in restored Blu-Ray format in 2014! Who would've thought that would happen?
But, sadly, Sabrina has not been in touch or supplied any new stuff for several years. I have heard that she is living in assisted care in 2015, but that may be temporary.
I hope the remaining static site will still be useful to historians and tragic short-trouser tots from the late 1950s with a tingling memory of a pretty blonde who... somehow... strangely... aroused them from childhood to throbbing adolescence. Corr blimey!
Please wake me up if any dramatic Sabrinathing occurs to you. I am still accumulating new Sabrinastuff and processing it when it reaches critical mass.
Thanks, from Sabrina and me.
Mark, of Melbourne, Australia.