Sabrina (actress)

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Born Norma Ann Sykes
(1936-05-19) 19 May 1936 (age 80)
Stockport, England
Occupation Model/Actress

Norma Ann Sykes (born 19 May 1936), better known as Sabrina, was a 1950s English glamour model who progressed to a minor movie career. Her main claim to fame was her hourglass figure of prodigious 41-inch (100 cm) breasts coupled with a tiny 19-inch (48 cm) waist and 36-inch (91 cm) hips.[1]

Sabrina was one of "a host of exotic, glamorous (British) starlets ... modelled on the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and Lana Turner";[2] others included Diana Dors, Belinda Lee, Shirley Eaton and Sandra Dorne.[2]

Early life and career[edit]

Sabrina was born in Stockport, Cheshire, before moving with her mother to Blackpool. At the age of 16 she moved to London, where she worked as a waitress and did some nude modelling. In 1955 she was chosen to play a dumb blonde sidekick in Arthur Askey's new television series, Before Your Very Eyes (BBC 1952–56, ITV 1956–58), which soon made her a household name.[1] She never spoke on the programme, and was promoted by the BBC as "the bosomy blonde who didn't talk".[3]

She made her motion-picture debut in Stock Car, in 1955. She then appeared in a small role in the 1956 film, Ramsbottom Rides Again. In her third movie, Blue Murder at St Trinian's (1957) she had a non-speaking role in which, despite sharing equal billing with the star Alastair Sim on posters and appearing in many publicity stills in school uniform, she was required only to sit up in bed wearing a nightdress, reading a book whilst the action took place around her.[4]

Sabrina's penultimate movie role was in the western The Phantom Gunslinger (1970),[a] in which she starred alongside Troy Donahue. Her final film was the horror movie The Ice House (1969) as a replacement for Jayne Mansfield, who had died in a car crash two years earlier.

In 1967 Sabrina married Dr Harold Melsheimer, a Hollywood gynaecologist/obstetrician, though they divorced ten years later. She lives in Hollywood.

Cultural depictions[edit]

The Goon Show scripts are littered with references to Sabrina's bosom, such as "by the measurements of Sabrina!" and "by the sweaters of Sabrina!".[6] In 'The Scandal Magazine,' an episode of the radio programme 'Hancock's Half Hour,' Sid James plays the editor of a sleazy gossip magazine which has carried an embarrassing story about Tony Hancock. James tells Hancock that his readers 'will believe anything... If I told them that Sabrina was Arthur Askey's mother, they'd believe me.' Hancock replies, 'Well, I don't,' pauses and asks, 'She's not, is she?' James says emphatically 'No,' but Hancock reflects, 'Mind you, there is a resemblance...'

British aircrews of the 1950s Royal Air Force dubbed part of the Hawker Hunter jet fighter plane "Sabrinas" owing to two large humps on the underside of the aircraft.[7] Similarly, in the late 1950s the British truck manufacturer ERF produced a semi-forward control HGV with a short protruding bonnet – those vehicles were also nicknamed "Sabrinas" because they had "a little more in front."

In 1974, the British motoring press gave the name "Sabrinas" to the oversized pairs of protruding rubber bumper blocks added to the MG MGB, Midget and Triumph TR6 sports cars, when US auto safety regulations mandated sturdier impact protection. The name stuck and is used worldwide.[8]

Acting credits[edit]



  1. ^ Although not released until 1970, the film was produced in 1967.[5]


  1. ^ a b Davenport-Hines (2012), p. 128
  2. ^ a b Cook, Pam (2001), "The Trouble with Sex: Diana Dors and the Blonde Bombshell Phenomenon", in Babington, Bruce, British Stars and Stardom, Manchester University Press, pp. 167–178 
  3. ^ Holmes, Su (2011), "Whoever Heard of Anyone Being a Screaming Success for Doing Nothing?", Media History, 17 (1): 33–48, doi:10.1080/13688804.2011.532376 
  4. ^ Davenport-Hines (2012), p. 129
  5. ^ "The Phantom Gunslinger (1967)", British Film Institute, retrieved 11 August 2014 
  6. ^ "Sabrina Sounds", The Encyclopaedia Sabrina, retrieved 18 October 2013 
  7. ^ Griffin (2006), p. 19
  8. ^ Clausager (1994), p. 25


  • Clausager, Anders D (1994), Original MGB, Bay View Books 
  • Davenport-Hines, Richard (2012), An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo, HarperCollins, ISBN 978-0-00-743586-9 
  • Griffin, David. J. (2006), Hawker Hunter 1951 to 2007, Lulu Enterprises, ISBN 978-1-4303-0593-4 

External links[edit]