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An energetic picture of backstage Sabrina from The Pleasures of Paris.
20 April 1957 - Pleasures of Paris [ Plaisirs de Paris ]
At: Prince of Wales Theatre, London.
With: GEORGE and BERT BERNARD, DICKIE HENDERSON, THREE MONARCHS
Pleasures of Paris (South Africa) - to be confirmed.
Sabrina in the playbill for London's 'Pleasures of Paris', 1957
Pictures taken from the souvenir programme "New Fabulous Follies Revue - Pleasures of Paris" at the Prince of Wales Theatre, 1957. Sabrina was 21 and I was being born, curse my luck.
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.
Created: July 25, 2005
This page was last modified: Saturday 2022-03-12 13:41
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