Claudine Georgette Longet (born 29 January 1942) is a French singer, actress, dancer and recording artist who was popular during the 1960s and 1970s.
Born in Paris, France, Longet was married to pop singer Andy Williams from 1961 until 1975. She has maintained a private profile since 1977, following her conviction for misdemeanor negligent homicide in connection with the death of her boyfriend, former Olympic skier Spider Sabich.
Her first appearances as an actress on television were in two 1963 episodes of the comedy series McHale's Navy. She also acted in the 1964 theatrical feature film of the same title. Many of her acting roles during the 1960s were in episodes of television adventure series that included Twelve O'Clock High, Combat!, The Name of the Game, The Rat Patrol and Hogan's Heroes Episode #20: It Takes a Thief ... Sometime. Longet was cast as Sharhri Javid in the 1965 episode, "The Silent Dissuaders", of the NBC education drama series, Mr. Novak, starring James Franciscus.
She appeared many times on The Andy Williams Show series and specials. She also occasionally appeared as a singer on other variety and music programs, including those of singers Bobby Darin and Tom Jones. Williams called Longet — a beautiful, athletic, slender, petite brunette with large doe eyes — "my favorite French singer".
Her career breakthrough occurred in 1966. She had a guest-starring role in the season-one finale of the NBC television adventure series Run for Your Life, which starred Ben Gazzara. In the episode "The Sadness of A Happy Time" she performed her English-French bilingual rendition of Jobim's bossa nova song "Meditation" ("Meditação"). The episode was first broadcast on 16 May 1966.
A&M Records cofounder Herb Alpert was among the viewers whom Longet charmed with her performance of "Meditation". When Alpert met Longet by happenstance at a club in New Orleans later in 1966, he offered her a recording contract with his company. Longet recorded singles, and five albums, for A&M Records between 1966 and 1970.
"Meditation" was Longet's first single release for A&M. Other Jobim compositions that she has recorded include "A Felicidade", "How Insensitive" ("Insensatez"), and "Dindi".
In 1968, Longet costarred with Peter Sellers in the MGM motion picture The Party, a box office hit that Blake Edwards wrote, produced, and directed. Longet sang "Nothing to Lose" (music by Henry Mancini and lyrics by Don Black) in the film.
In 1971, she joined Williams' Barnaby Records label. She released singles and two albums for Barnaby, We've Only Just Begun in 1971 and Let's Spend the Night Together in 1972. She also recorded songs for a projected third album for Barnaby that went unreleased. Many of the songs for the planned third album finally appeared on the 1993 compact disc release titled Sugar Me, after the Lynsey de Paul song that Longet covered in the early 70's but the masters for some of the other songs are missing and presumed lost.
In 1975, she appeared as "The Flower" (a nonsinging role) with Richard Burton, Jonathan Winters, and others, on the children's album The Little Prince, based on the Antoine de Saint Exupéry novel. The album won the Grammy Award for Best Album for Children in 1976.
She has enjoyed success on the music popularity charts. Her 1967 debut album, Claudine, peaked at #11 on the Billboard pop albums chart in the United States. Claudine became a RIAA-certified gold album, selling more than 500,000 copies. Subsequent albums The Look of Love peaked at #33 in 1967 and Love is Blue peaked at #29 in 1968 on the Billboard pop albums chart in the U.S.
Longet's musical cohort on her charting albums was arranger Nick De Caro. He also arranged her other two albums on A&M, Colours (1968) and Run Wild, Run Free (1970), and We've Only Just Begun on Barnaby.
She also has had hit singles in America on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. Her charting singles include her cover version of "Here, There and Everywhere" (music and lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney), "Hello, Hello" (composed by Terry MacNeil and Peter Kraemer), "Good Day Sunshine" (composed by Lennon and McCartney), "Small Talk" (music and lyrics by Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon), and "Love is Blue", a 1967 Eurovision Song Contest entry that gained fourth place (music by André Popp and French lyrics by Pierre Cour [Pierre Lemaire]). Another song, "Wanderlove" (music and lyrics by Mason Williams), went to #7 on the singles charts in Singapore and still occasionally gets airplay on Asian radio. She remains popular in Japan, where all of her original albums were reissued on compact disc.
Marriage to Andy Williams
Longet and Williams met in Las Vegas in 1960 when she was 18 and he was 32. Longet was experiencing problems with her car and had pulled over to the side of the road. Driving by, Williams stopped to offer assistance. She was the lead dancer of the Folies Bergère revue at the Tropicana Resort & Casino. They married on 15 December 1961 in Los Angeles, and had three children: Noëlle (born on 24 September 1963), Christian (born on 15 April 1965), and Robert ("Bobby") (born on 1 August 1969). They legally separated in 1970 and divorced in January 1975. According to Williams, they remained "very good friends".
Friendship with Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy
Longet and Andy Williams were close friends of Robert F. "Bobby" Kennedy and his wife, Ethel Kennedy. During the mid-1960s, they regularly socialized at Longet's and Williams's residences in Bel Air and Palm Springs and at the Kennedy residences at Hickory Hill and New York City. They also took summer cruises on the Salmon River in central Idaho and on the Colorado River.
On or before 4 June 1968, the day of the 1968 Democratic Party presidential primary in California, Kennedy — a contending Democratic presidential candidate — and his wife made tentative arrangements with Williams and Longet to visit The Factory. According to Williams, Robert Kennedy told them that he would make a hand signal at the conclusion of his televised speech at the Ambassador Hotel to confirm their get-together.
Shortly after midnight on 5 June, Longet and Williams were watching Senator Kennedy's televised primary victory speech in Kennedy's suite in his hotel and saw Kennedy make the "little hand gesture". When Williams rushed down to the hotel ballroom, he heard loud noises in the hallway and learned that Kennedy had been shot. Longet and Williams eventually joined Kennedy's family and friends at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, where doctors labored to save the Senator's life. They stayed at the hospital for about 24 hours. After Kennedy died during the early morning hours of 6 June, Longet and Williams went into his hospital room and saw Ethel Kennedy asleep near her husband.
Longet and Williams attended Kennedy's funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on 8 June. A television camera captured Williams consoling a sobbing Longet during the Mass. After Kennedy's brother Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy delivered a brief and emotional eulogy, Williams and a choir sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" in what a Washington Post reporter described as a "hauntingly slow tempo". Outside the cathedral on the streets of New York, thousands of people were listening to the Mass over loudspeakers. When they heard Williams singing, they began singing with him.
After the funeral Mass, Longet and Williams boarded the 21-car funeral train that took Senator Kennedy's body to Washington, D.C. and Arlington National Cemetery for burial. Longet and Williams were with Senator Kennedy's body, Ethel Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, and other Kennedy family members in the end car of the train. The front page of the 9 June 1968 edition of the Washington Post has a large photograph that depicts Ted Kennedy and Longet standing together on the rear platform of the funeral train as it passed through North Philadelphia.
Longet and Williams named their son Robert (born in August 1969) in remembrance of Robert Kennedy.
Arrest and trial
Longet was arrested and charged with fatally shooting her boyfriend, Olympic skier Vladimir "Spider" Sabich, at his Aspen, Colorado, home on 21 March 1976. At her trial Longet said the gun discharged accidentally as Sabich was showing her how it worked. Williams publicly supported Longet throughout the trial, even escorting her to and from the courthouse.
The Aspen police made two procedural errors that aided Longet's defense: without warrants, they took a blood sample from her; and they confiscated her diary. According to prosecutors, the sample showed the presence of cocaine in her blood, and her diary reportedly contradicted her claim that her relationship with Sabich had not soured. In addition, the gun was mishandled by non-weapons-experts. As they were unable to cite any of the disallowed material, prosecutors used the autopsy report to suggest that when Sabich was shot he was bent over, facing away, and at least 1.80 m (6 ft) from Longet, which would be inconsistent with the position and relative distance of someone demonstrating the operation of a firearm.
The jury convicted her of negligent homicide and sentenced her to pay a small fine and spend 30 days in jail. The judge allowed Longet to choose the days to be served, believing this arrangement would allow her to spend the most time with her children. She chose to serve most of her sentence on weekends. (Critical reaction to the verdict and sentencing was exacerbated when she subsequently vacationed with her defense attorney, Ronald D. Austin, who was married at the time; Longet and Austin later married and still live in Aspen.)
After the criminal trial, the Sabich family initiated civil proceedings to sue Longet. The case was eventually resolved out of court, with the provision that Longet never tell or write about her story.
- Ron Austin (1 June 1985 – present)
- Andy Williams (1961–1975) (divorced), three children — daughter Noelle Williams and sons Christian Williams and Bobby Williams.
Pop culture references
- In 1980, Mick Jagger wrote a song about Spider Sabich's death that was intended to be on the Rolling Stones' album Emotional Rescue. The song, titled "Claudine", carried lyrics that painted a graphic picture of some of the more salacious aspects of the affair and killing. However, it was deemed too controversial and was removed, although it was included on several bootleg Rolling Stones albums. In November 2011, the track "Claudine" was released on the Rolling Stones' deluxe reissue of their album Some Girls.
- 1976: Season 1, Episode 18 of Saturday Night Live featured a Weekend Update segment about "The Claudine Longet Invitational Ski Championship." It parodied the shooting incident, showing skiers making runs down the slopes until they are "accidentally" shot by Claudine Longet, resulting in abrupt wipeouts. Longet's attorneys wrote a cease-and-desist letter to Lorne Michaels and an apology was given in the next week's show.
- 2003: City Confidential episode 4.17, "Aspen: Murder on the Slopes" (29 July 2003), featured the city of Aspen and the case.
- Gilmore Girls:
- Season 1, Episode 12 (18 January 2001) of the show features a song by Longet, her version of "God Only Knows" (composed by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher).
- Season 5, Episode 22 (15 May 2005 season finale) of the show features Longet's recording of "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" (composed by Randy Newman, who played piano at the session).
|Year||Title||Label & No.||Billboard Top LPs chart peak position||Cash Box Top Pop Albums chart peak position||Notes|
|1964||The Wonderful World of Andy Williams||Columbia CL 2137/ CS 8937||#9||#8||Andy Williams' album; Claudine appears only on "Let It Be Me" ("Je t'Appartiens") (duet with Andy Williams); RIAA-certified gold album|
|1967||Claudine||A&M SP 4121||#11||#9||RIAA-certified gold album|
|1967||The Look of Love||A&M SP 4129||#33||#23|
|1968||Love is Blue||A&M SP 4142||#29||#31|
|1968||Colours||A&M SP 4163||#155||#80|
|1970||Run Wild, Run Free||A&M SP 4232|
|1971||We've Only Just Begun||Barnaby/ CBS Z 30377|
|1972||Let's Spend the Night Together||Barnaby/ MGM BR-15001|
|1975||The Little Prince||Warner Brothers||Spoken word children's album with music score|
|2000||The Very Best of Claudine Longet||Varèse Vintage 302 066 118 2||Compilation|
Notable foreign albums
|Year||Title||Label & No.||Notes|
|1993||Sugar Me||Vivid M131538||Japanese issue (includes singles and previously unreleased Barnaby recordings)|
|1998||A&M Digitally Remastered Best||A&M/ Polydor POCM-1573||Japanese issue (compilation of key A&M recordings and a few hard-to-find singles)|
|2003||Cuddle Up with Claudine Longet||Munster 002||Spanish issue (2-disc compilation of Barnaby recordings)|
|2003||The Party (Original Soundtrack)||BMG France RCA Victor Gold Series 82876524862||French reissue of 1968 motion picture soundtrack (RCA Victor LSP-3997) (includes Longet's 45 rpm single version of "Nothing to Lose" as a bonus track)|
|2005||Hello Hello: The Best of Claudine Longet||Rev-Ola CR REV 119||British issue (compilation of key recordings for A&M Records)|
Charting U.S. singles
|Year||Single||Billboard Chart Positions||Label & No.|
|U.S. Hot 100||U.S. AC||Christmas|
|1966||"Meditation (Meditação)" / "Sunrise, Sunset"||98/-||-/-||-/-||A&M 817|
|1967||"A Man and a Woman (Un homme et une femme)" / "Here, There and Everywhere"||-/126||-/19||-/-||A&M 832|
|1967||"Hello, Hello" / "Wanderlove"||91/-||8/-||-/-||A&M 846|
|1967||"Good Day Sunshine" / "The Look of Love"||100/-||36/-||-/-||A&M 864|
|1967||"Small Talk" / "Man in a Raincoat"||-/-||12/-||-/-||A&M 877|
|1967||"I Don't Intend to Spend Christmas Without You" / "Snow"||-/-||-/-||-/30||A&M 895|
|1968||"Love is Blue" / "Think of Rain"||71/-||28/-||-/-||A&M 909|
|1968||"Nothing to Lose" / "White Horses"||-/-||-/30||-/-||A&M 936|
|1968||"Who Needs You" / "Walk in the Park" (with Tommy LiPuma)||-/-||-/23||-/-||A&M 967|
|1968||"Am I Blue?" / "A Flea in Her Ear"||-/-||-/28||-/-||A&M 1002|
|1969||"Hurry on Down" / "I Think It's Gonna Rain Today"||-/-||30/-||-/-||A&M 1024|