Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January 29: Singer and dancer Claudine Longet is 72-years-old today.

Born in Paris, France, Claudine Georgette Longet was a popular singer and recording artist in the 1960s and 1970s. She was best known as the ex-wife of singer Andy Williams - and later for being convicted of “misdemeanor negligent homicide” in the death of skiing star Spider Sabich in 1976.

Longet was a dancer at the Folies Bergere in Las Vegas. and met Andy Williams when he pulled over to aid her on a desert road. They married on Christmas Day 1961 and had three children together.

In 1968, she appeared in The Party with Peter Sellers and sang “Nothing To Lose” by Henry Mancini.

Longet recorded a series of five albums for A&M Records between 1966 and 1970 and two albums for Williams’s Barnaby label in 1971 and 1972. She also made frequent acting appearances in television series and appeared from time to time on Williams’ variety series and specials.

Williams called Longet a “my favorite French singer.” She and Williams separated in 1969 but did not divorce for six more years.

Peter “Spider” Sabich, Jr was an American alpine ski racer. He was a member of the U.S. Ski Team in the late 1960s and competed at the 1968 Winter Olympics; he was the pro ski racing champion in 1971 & 1972.

Late in the afternoon of March 21, 1976, Sabich had returned from a day of skiing in Aspen and was preparing to shower. He was fatally shot in the bathroom of his Starwood home by his live-in girlfriend, singer-actress Claudine Longet, then age 34.

The two had met at a pro-celebrity event four years earlier in 1972 in Bear Valley, California, and were quickly an item. She claimed the gun discharged accidentally, as he was showing her how it worked.

He was hit in the abdomen and lost a significant amount of blood before the ambulance arrived. He died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, with Longet at his side. Spider Sabich was 30 years old.

Longet was charged with reckless manslaughter. She was convicted in early 1977 of a lesser charge, criminally negligent homicide, a misdemeanor.

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Longet was sentenced to just 30 days in jail, and allowed to serve the time at her convenience. She served her sentence three months later, following a vacation with her married defense attorney, Ron Austin. The two would later marry and continue to live in the Aspen area.

Longet has never performed again after the criminal trial, and the Sabich family initiated civil proceedings to sue Longet. The case was eventually settled out of court for a large monetary settlement, with the proviso that Longet never tell or write about her story.


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