Claudine Longet and Spider Sabich
Paris to Vegas
Longet was born in Paris on Jan. 29, 1942. After high school, she worked briefly as a dancer in a stage revue for tourists in Paris, and through connections there learned of a thriving market for thin, leggy young women for the French girlie shows that were the rage in Las Vegas.
Longet certainly qualified as French, thin and leggy. She had melancholy doe eyes and a face often described as innocent, surrounded by a hive of auburn hair. She was soft-spoken and seemed as fragile as rice paper.
Arriving in Las Vegas at age 19, Longet found work as a danseuse in "LeFolies Bergere," the Tropicana casino's famous "feather show" of French-style burlesque. (The show, which opened in 1959, is still running in 2005.)
Longet soon caught the winking eye of Andy Williams, the cardigan-wearing crooner. They were married on Christmas in 1961. He was 34, and she was not yet 20.
The following year, Williams had a career-changing hit with "Moon River," the ballad that Henry Mancini wrote for the film Breakfast at Tiffany's.
As Williams' star ascended, Claudine put her career on hold and gave birth to daughter Noelle in 1963 and son Christian in 1964.
The popularity of "Moon River" landed Williams his own television show in 1963, and Longet became a frequent guest. (Their signature shtick played on Claudine's accented English. Her tag line became, "Ooooohhhh, Andeeee!")
That accent led Longet to a series of '60s TV roles as a sexy foreigner in programs such as Hogan's Heroes, Combat!, Rat Patrol, Run for Your Life, Dr. Kildare, 12 O'Clock High and Alias Smith and Jones.
She then won star billing in the 1968 Blake Edwards film The Party, playing a Hollywood starlet who becomes the love interest of Peter Sellers' character.