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][2][3]

Sabrina was one of "a host of exotic, glamorous (British) starlets ... modelled on the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and Lana Turner";[4] others included Diana Dors, Belinda Lee, Shirley Eaton and Sandra Dorne.[4]

Early life and career[edit]

Sabrina was born on 19 May 1936, in Stockport, Cheshire, at Stepping Hill Hospital[5] to Walter and Annie Sykes, living in Buckingham Street, Heaviley for about 13 years and attended St. George's School,[6] before moving with her mother to Blackpool.[7] She spent some time in hospital with rheumatic fever. At the age of 16 she moved to London,[8] where she worked as a waitress and did some nude modeling, posing for Russell Gay in a photo-shoot that led to appearing on the five of spades in a deck of nude playing cards.[9]

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), from 18 February 1955 to 20 April 1956, which soon made her a household name.[1] She never spoke on the programme,[10] and was promoted by the BBC as "the bosomy blonde who didn't talk".[11][12][13]

James Beney, of Walton Films, released a 100-foot 9.5mm short glamour film "At Home With Sabrina" around July 1955.[6][14]

Goodnight with Sabrina (c.1958, 3:49 mins) is included with Beat Girl, in 2016, newly remastered by BFI Flipside[15][16][17][18]

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.[19] 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.[20]

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.

On 27 November 1967 Sabrina married Dr. Harold Melsheimer (born 11 June 1927, Germany), a Hollywood gynecologist/obstetrician, divorcing ten years later. She lives in Hollywood.[22]

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!".[23] 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...'

Hunchfront of Lime Grove - "A somewhat unappealing nickname given to the generously endowed starlet known as Sabrina ..."[24][25]

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.[26] 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."

The 1959 Triumph TR3S 1985cc iron-block alloy-headed engine was called "Sabrina" because of its dome-shaped cam drivers.[27]

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.[28] See Dagmar bumpers.

Television appearances[edit]

  • Before Your Very Eyes (1955–1956, ten episodes)
  • Double Your Money (1955)[29]
  • Make Mine a Million (1959)
  • Tarzan (one episode, 1967)
  • This Is Your Life - (Arthur Askey, 1974)

Acting credits[edit]



  1. ^ Although not released until 1970, the film was produced in 1967.[21]


  1. ^ a b Davenport-Hines (2012), p. 128
  2. ^ "Norma Sykes Stock Photos and Pictures - Getty Images". Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  3. ^ "Norma Ann Sykes Stock Photos and Pictures - Getty Images". Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  4. ^ 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 
  5. ^ "Dr Harold Melsheimer & Sabrina Divorced, Joint Family Tree & History - FameChain". Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  6. ^ a b "SABRINA". Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  7. ^ Holmes, Su (1 November 2015). "Entertaining Television: The BBC and Popular Television Culture in the 1950s". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 30 January 2017 – via Google Books. 
  8. ^ "Grahame Rhodes Jazz". Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  9. ^ "Sabrina - the nudie cards!". Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  10. ^ Holmes, Su (1 November 2015). "Entertaining Television: The BBC and Popular Television Culture in the 1950s". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 30 January 2017 – via Google Books. 
  11. ^ 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 
  12. ^ Kynaston, David (2 November 2009). "Family Britain, 1951-1957". A&C Black. Retrieved 30 January 2017 – via Google Books. 
  13. ^ "Sabrina, the Blackpool Celebrity - 1956 Premium Photographic Print by Ken Russell at". Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  14. ^ "02 - May - 2009 - shadowplay". Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Beat Girl Blu-ray - Edmond T. Gréville". Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  17. ^ SHE NEARLY CAUSED RIOT; Mirror (Perth, WA : 1921 - 1956); Sat 19 Nov 1955; Page 3;
  18. ^ "SHE NEARLY CAUSED RIOT - APPROVED BY 12 MILLION - Mirror (Perth, WA : 1921 - 1956) - 19 Nov 1955". Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  19. ^ Heilbron, Hilary (22 October 2012). "Rose Heilbron: Legal Pioneer of the 20th Century: Inspiring Advocate who became England's First Woman Judge". Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved 30 January 2017 – via Google Books. 
  20. ^ Davenport-Hines (2012), p. 129
  21. ^ "The Phantom Gunslinger (1967)", British Film Institute, retrieved 11 August 2014 
  22. ^ News, Manchester Evening (4 September 2007). "Fifties pin-up star now living in squalor". Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  23. ^ "Sabrina Sounds", The Encyclopaedia Sabrina, retrieved 18 October 2013 
  24. ^ "Hunchfront of Lime Grove - Oxford Reference". doi:10.1093/acref/9780199916214.001.0001/acref-9780199916214-e-1114. Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  25. ^ "Voices of change - The Spectator". 21 October 2009. Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  26. ^ Griffin (2006), p. 19
  27. ^ "by-richard-heseltine". 7 July 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  28. ^ Clausager (1994), p. 25
  29. ^ Hayes, created by Graham J. "Double Your Money - A Cherished Television Review". Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  30. ^ Mobberley, Martin (23 July 2013). "It Came From Outer Space Wearing an RAF Blazer!: A Fan's Biography of Sir Patrick Moore". Springer Science & Business Media. Retrieved 30 January 2017 – via Google Books. 
  31. ^ "Goodnight with Sabrina". 1 January 2000. Retrieved 30 January 2017 – via IMDb. 


  • 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]