Encyclopedia Sabrina (Norma Ann Sykes)

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They gave SABRINA three days to learn three lines!

Australasian Post 1956-02-09

pages 10-12

Britain's dumb blonde took a strong line of her own, without and extra from the BBC

They gave SABRINA three days to learn three lines!

SABRINA, the dumb blonde with the phenomenal figure, who was a smashing success as a silent sight on Television, has been sacked by the B.B.C.

Why? Because she wouldn't learn to speak three lines in three days. Thirty words — ten words a day! Sabrina is indignant at the B.B.C. — and the B.B.C. is a bit fed up with Sabrina.

Sabrina - she walked on to the TV stage. She didn't say a single word, but she developed into a fantastically popular figure. Critics who say her first motion picture saud she couldn't sing - but she doesn't need to.

Sabrina — real name Norma Sykes — became famous overnight. When her highly photogenic features were thrust on British TV viewers, the effect was as shattering as a blow between the eyes. Or maybe two blows.

Sabrina said nothing, and did nothing in her first TV show. But she made a wonderful impression. People wrote to the B.B.C to ask if she was real.

She's real, all right. The whole 1401bs. of her. And she has a couple of wonderful assets, even if she can't talk. She's got a nice smile, and a 40-inch bust measurement.

At least, she claims it's 40 inches but there is a dispute about whether she's cribbing on the last half-inch or not. Some people say she should be classified at 39 inches. No one has settled this argument, because there are difficulties in the way of sending the case to arbitration.

Her row with the B.B.C. blew up after she'd moaned about not having anything to say in the show. She wanted to prove that she was more than just a "dumb blonde".

Sabrina's got a lot of front, but B.B.C. officials were a little wary. They agreed to give her a trial run as a talking model. She was handed three lines to say in a show, and a couple of days to rehearse them.

On the sand Sabrina's a bigger draw than bathing.

Annoyed, she didn't turn up at rehearsal. Then the B.B.C. sacked her from the show, and tried to fill the role with an understudy — with a 36 inch bust.

Sabrina's always been a little bit sensitive about not being given lines to speak. She says, "People come up to me in the street and plead, 'Just say something — so that I know you CAN talk'."

She says, "The women all want to shake my hand and touch me and stroke me. But the men sometimes go berserk — I can't think why."

She pauses, and smiles, thinking why. And then, because she is an honest Lancashire girl, she says: "Well, I can, really ... it's me, you know. It's my bust!"

But Sabrina's success, while gratifying to her ego and her bank manager, has its nervous moments.

Once she was persuaded to make a personal appearance — a "P.A.", she calls it — at a stock car meeting at Wolverhampton, England. Her fee, she says, was "about £75". And she earned it. "They drove me round in an open car," she recalls. "Then thousands of boys mobbed me. I had two cops with me, but even they couldn't keep them away.

"The boys were horrid. They tickled me and touched me and squeezed me. They tried to tear the dress down off my shoulders.

"It frightened me," she says. "And it's all because of my bust. I'm still in a daze. I can't believe I AM Sabrina."

But she is. And while she is, she wisely makes the most of her attractions. She has a part share in a business enterprise — the Sabrina Jewellery Novelty Company.

She also plans to form another company that will make sweaters. "I'll design them," she explains. "I'll model them, too. It should be a new line."

What has she got that all the other blonde, brunette and redhead starlets haven't?

First, she's not the bone-brain that her rivals would like to believe. "There's more to me than just a pretty face," she says.

She knew when to grab her chance. It happened like this. As plain Norma Sykes, aged 17, she was alone in London posing for pin-up pictures.

Actor Steve Cochran thought her necklace was "swell"

An agent saw one of the photographs on a magazine cover and took her on his list. There her name might have stayed — if Arthur Askey had not been looking for a girl to play a dumb blonde in his new TV show.

The agent sent 12 girls for auditioning.

"What about Norma?" suggested someone in his office who had been impressed with Miss Syke's [sic] physical qualifications.

"Oh, well, send her along as well," said the agent.

So Norma Sykes went for the audition. The B.B.C. were enthusiastic.

"That Sykes girl is wonderful," they said. "Just what we wanted. Let's book her."

They thought up a new name for her. Miss Sykes became Sabrina. And public reaction was fantastic. Her performance brought in floods of fanmail.

She was booked for a total of five shows.

She needed a new dress for each one, and here her mother helped her out. She made all five dresses, and still makes many that her daughter wears.

"Without her mother she would have been in a jam," says a family friend. Sabrina agrees. As soon as she saw what the future held, she brought her parents to London.

This picture is a world-beater! Here's a picture that has become world - famous. Sabrina posed for it in a London street, at night. When it was published, sceptics said that Sabrina was either drawing the long bow, or else she was a freak. But the picture won her thousands of fans.

When the TV series ended, Sabrina went on a music hall tour. Then she returned last September and found TV had "forgotten her."

A friend rang Richard Afton, the B.B.C. producer, and told him Sabrina was in town. "What's happened to her?" asked Afton. "I think we can use her again."

So she had several other parts before the cameras. They earned small fees—and colossal publicity. This time she came back to stay.

She found fame within a few months, apparently without being able to act, sing, or dance.

How does she keep her figure firm?

" Naturally ," she says. She eats what she likes.

Her waist is now down from 24in. to 22in. Her hips stay static at 36in. "I've lost an awful lot of weight rushing about," she explains. "Luckily, I haven't lost my bust."

Many people ask how she supports the figure that supports her. She dismisses the question thus:

"I just go and buy a bra off the peg. I don't believe in having one specially made, or sewing wide straps on the top or anything like that.

"Mind you" — and Sabrina lowers her voice — "I don't need to wear a bra in every slinky evening dress." She didn't wear one, for instance, when she went with the American actor, Steven Cochran, to the premiere of the film To Hell and Back. Her figure is naturally good. She never needs a roll-on — only a suspender-belt.

"It was my biggest dream that while I was young I would be famous," she says. She is still young and she is certainly famous. "I'd like to be a bit notorious, but a bit naive, if you know what I mean."

"I don't want women not to like me and think I'm — well, you know ... As it is, they write me lots of letters and ask what I wear, and what material it is made of."

Sabrina is irritated when she hears or reads about other women who claim they are equally well-endowed and that with luck they could be as well known.

"I've heard lots of girls say: 'Oh, I could have been Sabrina, my bust is as big as hers.' That's all rubbish. There are lots of pin-ups, of course, but I'd like to tell them that it's not the SIZE but the SHAPE that counts."

Fame finds her a little lonely. "I haven't had any real boy friends at all since I've been Sabrina," she complains. "I guess all the publicity scares them off."

She admits she would like to marry but she does not want marriage to interfere with her career. "He must be someone capable, someone able to tell me what to do," she says.

Her success is lasting amazingly considering an apparent minimum of qualifications. But she has a real personality. Even so, she cannot stay a walking statue for ever. So, like the wise girl she is, Sabrina takes acting, dancing and singing lessons.

And her drive to be more than just a "dumb" blonde started that row with the B.B.C. But she'll be back. A girl with Sabrina's talents won't have any trouble finding a job in show business.

Page Created: 3 May 2018

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