Sabrina covers her biggest assets.
Every once in a while we run across stories about Hollywood stars insuring their body parts. A couple of examples: Bette Davis was famous for her small waist and insured it against weight gain for the equivalent of $400,000; and 1920s comedian Ben Turpin, who was famously cross-eyed, took out a policy of similar value should his eyes ever straighten. National Enquirer insists on this cover from today in 1960 that British starlet Sabrina, aka Norma Ann Sykes, insured her breasts. The tabloid is in fact correct—she allowed her manager Joe Matthews to insure her endowment with Lloyd's of London for £UK100,000. In today's cash that would be about £2.4 million, or $3.2 million. You may think that's excessive, but when's the last time your boobs caused a riot? Unfortunately the weight she carried on her torso led to chronic back pain and a failed attempt at a surgical fix that left her in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She died in obscurity last year. It was a sad ending for the former sex symbol. But once upon a time she was a one-name star—just Sabrina—and a global obsession.
Mid-century tabloid hits all the familiar tabloid notes.
Lowdown makes the rounds in this issue published in May 1965. Inside, Ann-Margret claims she doesn't want to be a tease (fail), editors ask if women are more immoral than men (which they really are, once you take war, genocide, faithlessness, and generally violent tendencies off the table), and June Wilkinson's photo is among those used in a story about women supposedly receiving insurance covered breast implants from Britain's National Health Service.
Probably the most interesting story concerns Swedish actress Inger Stevens disappearing for a week. Lowdown hints at an alcohol binge, which is nothing special (hell, we do those) but while there are plenty of sources citing a 1960 suicide attempt, we found no other mention anywhere of Lowdown's missing week. The story is notable because Stevens would die at age thirty-five of a drug overdose.
Elsewhere you get nude skiing in Austria, Richard Chamberlain and his hit television show Dr. Kildare, the sex powers of mandrake root, and Belgian born actress and dancer Monique Van Vooren endorsing regular exercise. Scans below—oh, and sorry about the quality. Lowdown's printing process caused scanner problems. It's never happened before, so hopefully we won't encounter the issue again.
Sørensen throws Playboy fans off her trail.
Tempo was a pocket-sized celeb and pop culture magazine published bi-weekly out of Atlanta and New York City by Sports Report, Inc. We don’t know how long it lasted—this one is vol. 7, issue 9—but we know we’ve never seen one dated before 1953 or after 1958. When Dane Arden appeared on the cover of this one from today in 1956, she was already famous thanks to her appearance as Playboy’s centerfold just the previous month. But she had posed under her real name Elsa Sørensen, and back then that may have kept most Playboy readers from realizing Sørensen and Arden were the same person. We have no idea if that was her intention, or why she’d have wanted to do it, but it’s curious. Our guess is that Playboy wanted an exclusive association with her Sørensen identity, and pressed her to choose a new name for future modeling. Or perhaps she thought of magazines like Tempo as lower class, and didn’t want to diminish her Playboy image. Strange, considering Tempo had been around longer, but possible. Or maybe she simply thought Elsa Sørensen was a little too Danish sounding for Hollywood. But there’s no evidence she ever had an interest in movies, and if she did wouldn’t she have been sacrificing much of the useful recognition she’d gained as a Playboy centerfold? All we can say is it’s one of history’s little mysteries. Hmm… that has a nice ring. Think we’ll claim that one—History’s Little Mysteries™. More Dane/Elsa below, plus Brigitte Bardot, Shirley Falls, Erroll Garner, Sabrina, the Cleveland Browns, Anita Ekberg, et al.
My eyes are up here, cherie.
Paris Frou Frou #58, with Jayne Mansfield, Sabrina, Mickey Hargitay, and many unknowns. We’re really starting to appreciate this magazine because it always seems to have at least two or three truly striking images, including, in this case, the cabaret dancers Mitzi and Mimi (mmm... twins) and the back cover, just above. You may be pondering what exactly is a frou frou? While it sounds like a small, furry mammal, possibly with razor sharp teeth, it’s actually an onomatopaeic phrase originally created in French to imitate the swishing sound of a woman’s skirts, and to describe unnecessary showiness (kind of like this sentence). File that definition away in the cobwebbed nook of your brain reserved for truly useless info that might one day win you a point in a pub quiz or prompt someone to label you a metrosexual. See our other Paris Frou Frou here.
Sabrina slips her top in London and Ava replaces her Spanish bullfighter with an Italian actor.
This issue of Exposed from October 1957 gives top billing to British sex symbol Sabrina, aka Norma Ann Sykes, and tells us she lost her dress in the street and caused a riot. How did it happen? During a public appearance in London someone supposedly stepped on the hem of her dress. The garment came off, the Brits went bonkers over her 41-inch bare bust, and Sabrina was so distressed that she fainted, so we’re told. Is this story true? We tend to think so, because Exposed goes on to ponder whether the whole fiasco was a publicity stunt. Their ruminations lend the tale just the right element of verisimilitude, so we’re going to say yes, it probably happened. Also on the cover of Exposed, like clockwork, appears Ava Gardner. Readers are told she’s doing the dirty with Italian actor Walter Chiari. This would have been after splitting with Frank Sinatra but before the official divorce. But wait—didn’t we just write about her seeing Spanish bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguín while also still married to Frankie? Come on people—that was so 1956. Sometimes you have to wonder how Gardner had time for all these affairs, but let’s just say that if she liked a man she always found a way to squeeze him in.
The two guys Top Secret tried to portray as enemies actually kinda liked each other.
As usual, there is an array of interesting teasers on the cover of Top Secret. The squaw in question at left is Jeanne Carmen, who was a famous blonde pin-up, but who was naturally brunette, and had played the role of a Native American girl named Yellow Moon in the cheesy western War Drums. So that’s the source of the squaw reference. Whether Elvis actually stole her from Sinatra, we can’t say. It’s possible any woman in Hollywood would have to be stolen from Sinatra, the guy got around so much. And as if to prove the point, he would later have a fling with the cover star here, Sabrina, aka Norma Sykes. We talked about their tryst in this post from earlier this year.
Anyway, the bit that really caught our attention was not the alleged Elvis-Carmen-Sinatra triangle, but the story about Ingo Johansson being doped. Ingemar “Ingo” Johansson was a world champion boxer who had won the heavyweight crown from Floyd Patterson a year earlier. In the March 1960 rematch, Patterson put Johansson’s lights out with a blow so vicious that Johansson was left twitching on the canvas. It was a definitive victory, just as Johansson’s earlier win over Patterson had been, but in 1960 white-black boxing matches were overtly racially divisive, and so Top Secret took advantage by suggesting that perhaps Patterson’s camp managed to slip the Swede a mickey. That question was answered in the March 1961 third match between the two, when Patterson again knocked Johansson out.
After their careers were over, Johansson and Patterson became good friends and even flew to visit each other in their native countries every year. Top Secret could well have done a story on that, but of course harmony doesn’t sell magazines. So while in the U.S. civil rights strife raged through the rest of the sixties and into the seventies, two guys who once made a living beating the living shit out of each other quietly proved that, given a chance to see each other’s similarities rather than differences, people tend to get along just fine.
Tabloid explores the tricky nuances of quotation mark usage.
Check out this issue of the tabloid On the Q.T. from May of 1963. As always, at least one of the stars referenced on the cover is no longer widely known. In this case it’s Sabrina. She was a British model and television actress whose real name was Norma Sykes, but who became a legitimate one-name celeb based upon the anomaly of her forty-two inch bust and eighteen inch waist. Sabrina had a thing for royalty, and allowed her hourglass measurements to be thoroughly explored by such personages as the Duke of Kent, the Marquis of Milford-Haven, Prince Christian of the House of Hanover, Knight of the British Empire Sean Connery, and King Dingaling of Las Vegas Frank Sinatra. Sabrina did indeed have a specific diet she credited with helping maintain her figure, and if you absolutely can’t go to your grave without that knowledge, it’s here.
Scanning the cover again, we see Shirley Bassey has made an appearance. Bassey is a Welsh performer who sang, among other hits, the title track to the Bond film Goldfinger. What may not be immediately apparent to those unfamiliar with her is that she is black. So the photo of her with a white man speaks implicitly of interracial scandal without trumpeting it to the heavens in a headline. Perhaps that sort of restraint is why On the Q.T. called itself the class magazine in its field. Of course, on the not-so-classy side of the ledger is the banner concerning lesbians, with quotation marks around the word “pass.” Either this is to emphasize the word as slang, or to suggest that a lesbian’s quest to blend in with straight folk is fruitless. In either case, there's no doubt it implies this is a burning desire for all lesbians. How times change. These days, lesbians are considered chic and quite a few straight folk have a burning desire to associate with them—preferably after getting a good charge on the dvdcam and making sure the lighting is sufficient. We’ll have more from On the Q.T. later.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1992—Cocaine Baron Escapes Prison
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, imprisoned leader of the Medellin drug cartel, escapes from a posh Colombian jail known as La Catedral after he learns authorities intend to move him to a real prison. His taste of freedom doesn't last—he's killed in a shootout a year-and-a-half later.
1925—Jury Decides the Teaching of Evolution Is a Crime
In the famous Scopes Monkey Trial, American schoolteacher John Scopes is found guilty of violating the Butler Act, which forbids the teaching of evolution in schools. The sensational trial pits two great legal minds—William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow—against each other. Ultimately, Scopes and Darrow are destined to lose because the case rests on whether Scopes had violated the Act, not whether evolution is fact.
1969—First Humans Reach the Moon
Neil Armstrong and Eugene 'Buzz' Aldrin, Jr. become the first humans to walk on the moon. The third member of the mission, command module Pilot Michael Collins, remains in orbit in Apollo 11.
1972—Chaos in the Big Apple
In New York City, within a span of twenty-four hours, fifty-seven murders are committed.
1944—Hitler Survives Third Assassination Attempt
Adolf Hitler escapes death after a bomb explodes at his headquarters in Rastenberg, East Prussia. A senior officer, Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, is blamed for planting the device at a meeting between Hitler and other senior staff members. Hitler sustains minor burns and a concussion but manages to keep an appointment later in the day with Italian leader Benito Mussolini.
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