Vinyl Dynamite #14: Claudine Longet
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Track- "Think of Rain" on The Look of Love LP (1967)
Check out this beautiful young lady on the cover of this album - doesn't she look just sweet as a kitten? Look at her adorable little smile - cute as a button, I tell you. Well, looks can be deceiving. You geezers reading this (and you astute retrophiles) know exactly what I'm talking about. This perky young lass killed her husband in cold blood.... but I'm getting ahead of myself.
The story really begins with her as a dancer in the Vegas act, Folies Bergère in 1960. Barbara Walters' father was the director of the show, and Claudine can be seen in the photo below holding the first "P" in "HAPPY". (Another picture from her Folies days can be found here.)
Then one day, her car broke down and she was stuck on the side of the road. As luck would have it, the singer Andy Williams was driving by and offered her help. Williams was smitted by this French girl whom he said was "a beautiful, athletic, slender, petite sleek brunette with large doe eyes." Not long after, they were married - she was 18 and he was 32.
Longet's career in music, TV and movies began shortly thereafter. Her first onscreen appearance was in a couple episodes of McHale's Navy. She went on to act in everything from Dr. Kildare to Hogan's Heroes.
My first exposure to Longet was her appearance in the Blake Edwards movie, The Party portraying the shy and vulnerable love interest of Peter Sellers. In the film, she has the opportunity to showcase her singing talents, and audiences lapped her up and were begging for more.
Several more movies followed, along with numerous successful albums and singles. It would seem. Claudine Longet had everything a woman could ever want: a rich and famous husband, three wonderful kids, and a respectable career in music and show business. Who could ask for more?
The couple were even good friends with Bobby Kennedy. In fact, they were supposed to go to a disco with him the night he was killed. Senator Kennedy told Andy and Claudine that he would make a "little hand gesture" at the end of his televised primary victory speech to let them know he could make it to the disco. The couple watched Kennedy's speech from their Bel Air home, and when the gesture was made the two hopped out of bed to get ready to head to the disco.... then they heard the shots ring out.... Three days later, Andy was singing at his friend's funeral. The couple would name their 3rd child Bobby.
That was 1968.... by 1970 they were legally separated. Claudine and the three kids moved in with the famous Olympic skier, "Spider" Sabich. He was handsome, talented, and had become quite a popular figure. Robert Redford even played him in a movie (Downhill Racer). But this is where the fairy tale ends. The relationship became tumultuous and in 1975, Spider was fatally shot in the abdomen by Claudine.
Claudine claimed the gun discharged accidentally, and was charged with only negligent homicide. The fact that she was high on cocaine never made it into the trial, nor was the fact that their relationship had become hostile. Subsequently, Claudine spent only 30 days in jail.
Claudine Longet all but disappeared from the pulic eye after her release from prison. She married her defense attorney and has been rarely seen or heard of since.
One final note: For those of you who believe in the whole Hope Diamond curse thing, add this story as further evidence. Claudine's last acting role was a TV movie about the Hope Diamond. (insert dramatic music here)
A couple of great sources of photos and information on Claudine Longet:
Cuddle Up with Claudine
Love Claudine blog