Contact me at Encyclopedia Sabrina
My Baby - She's As Good as Gold
By Mrs. Ann Sykes
|Weekend (Australia), 7 March 1959|
THE Sabrina story started for me one sunny morning in 1936 — 9.45 a.m . to be exact.
That was when I first saw her, a dimpled eight-pound bundle in the nurse's arms. Even at that age she was beautiful. In fact, a few months later she won £5 in a "beautiful baby" contest in Blackpool.
But I never dreamed then that her beauty would make her a world-famous personality long before her 21st birthday.
People never stop asking me what it feels like to be the mother of the famous Sabrina. All I can say is that it feels no different from being the mother of any daughter who has made you very proud and very happy.
She may be a celebrity to everyone else, but to me she is still my baby daughter, only 22 years old, with hair and skin as fine as on the day she was born.
From childhood Sabrina has always been completely natural in her manner and as good as gold. I have never had to spank her or even tick her off, though I must confess she has had to tick ME off a few times when I have spoken out of place.
That's something no one could accuse my girl of doing. As soon as she knew she was coming to Australia she bought two round-the-world plane tickets.
"I'll give you first preference, Mum, if you'd like to come along," she told me.
I badly needed a holiday, so here I am. Wherever my daughter is asked — receptions, parties, dinners — she takes me along, too. I think I help her to feel less nervous and she likes to see me enjoying myself.
Every night I go along to the theatre to help her dress for her show. It's "Where's the blue slip, Mum?" or "Have you seen the white bra, Mum?" all night.
Sabrina designs all her own clothes, but she usually asks my advice before going out somewhere.
"Will I wear the white slacks or the pink?" she asks like any other girl — and like any other girl she ends up wearing what SHE wanted in the first place.
Polio almost destroyed Sabrina's career before it had even started, but a determined mum restored her will to live and started her on the road which led to fame.
On this trip my job is to take care of the slinky model gowns she wears in her act. They are specially made for her in London and cost a small fortune.
One shimmery white sheath is completely covered with millions of glass beads, all hand sewn. It cost over £300. The bill for two of her evening dresses recently came to £1000.
The gowns are not specially built up to make Sabrina's bust look bigger. They are boned the way any ordinary strapless evening dress is boned, but they are made to fit her like a second skin.
I get angry and hurt when people say my daughter must be a freak to have a 41½-18-35 figure. Sometimes photographs give the wrong impression.
The waist slopes in very gradually. Sabrina does not have to use a "platform" or any other support for her bust. She has the same bust as I had when I was a girl — well developed and very high.
All her brassieres are bought off the hook in shops like anyone else's.
When Sabrina was 16 she was junior swimming champion at Blackpool. This helped her bust development. Her ambition at that time was to be an Olympic swimmer.
SHE is still a keen swimmer, but as you can imagine, we can never go on a beach without being recognised. So we try to find someone who will let us use his private pool.
This is part of the price you have to pay for being famous, especially as there's no way of disguising Sabrina.
People admire her blond hair, which she always does herself and is naturally that colour. (She has never been to a hairdresser.)
Her skin is fine and fair, but she's getting a bit of a tan in the Australian sun.
This might seem strange to you, but then you weren't there the day she came home from the beach sick.
Other little girls have had the best years of their lives when they were teenagers. My daughter, at the age of 11, was a cripple.
She was in a plaster cast for 12 months. The plaster went all the way to the hip and she could hardly move.
For the next three years I tried to keep her spirits up, but it was a grim time, seeing doctors, having operations, moving in and out of hospitals.
When she was 16 she decided to go to London — not to seek a fortune but to get more help for her leg.
Recently she did a show for some crippled children at hospital. Halfway through she broke down. "Mum," she said, "I just can't look at those poor children."
She has been pursued by some very famous men — Prince Christian of Hanover, Steve Cochran, Hugh O'Brian (TV's Wyatt Earp). But the romances have always been one-sided.
Just before she left she talked me into making her 12 pairs of skin-tight slacks in different colours.
It cost her nearly £3000 to fix up. I helped her to decorate it.
The bedroom has a wall completely covered in mirrors. All the bedroom furniture is silver antique. I made the silvery drapes and the quilted lilac satin bedspread myself for her.
The bathroom has two walls of mirrors, a black-panelled floor, and red towelling drapes. There is a cute dressing-table trimmed with white bobble fringe.
All the dining-room furniture is white wrought-iron. Another fascinating feature of the flat is the lift, which goes right into one of the rooms.
You have to have a special key to get in, and if you don't like someone you just push a button and — whoosh! They're back on the ground floor again!
I stay in the flat quite a bit. Most of my time there is spent answering the phone. Sabby hates phones, and won't speak on them.
"I expected a showgirl, and I found a typical English girl you'd be proud to take home to Mother," he told the papers.
I suppose you wonder why you don't hear me mention Sabrina's father. He is a very quiet, reserved man who prefers to stay at home.
She is very good to us both, and would do anything for us. Whenever she has a party she asks me along. Often she takes me with her when she is asked out.
I was present at the wonderful party Winnie Atwell gave the night the Royal Command Performance was cancelled.
Another time when Sabrina was due to meet the Queen, the Queen got the. flu. These have been the two biggest disappointments in her life.
Winnie's party helped to cheer us up.
It went till 6 a.m. Liberace didn't just kiss. Sabrina. He kissed me, too, and I have a picture at home to prove it. He is a very nice person.
So was Winnie's late father, who was there, too. When he died, Sabby was very upset, and sent Winnie red roses with the message: "Our thoughts are with you today."
We have had our proud moments — like The time when every switchboard at the studio was jammed with calls after her TV appearance. And she had not said one word.
And there was the time the duck was named "Sabrina" after her.
And the time she starred at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London's West End. The show ran 20 months. I sat out front in a lovely emerald-green lace dress with one of her famous minks thrown over my shoulders.
I clapped and clapped. She still asks me to go out front and watch occasionally.
I listen to people's comments, and sometimes I start chatting to them.
"I'm her mother, you know," I'll tell them, and watch the look on their faces. You'd be surprised how many fans she has.
Every night fans wait outside the stage door. Sabrina always has a smile, and a wave for them, but she just won't go out with strangers, as you can understand.
The same man bought her a huge koala with a musical box in it. He told me he'd got it on time payment.
All our friends are either people we meet in the theatre (and very nice they are, too) or people that these theatre people introduce us to.
We're kept busy with photographers and reporters from morning to night. But on Sundays we relax and stop being Sabrina and her mother.
Page Created: 14 May 2018
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This page was last modified: Monday 2023-07-10 13:57