Although French chanteuse Claudine Longet recorded a series of bewitchingly ethereal albums which are much revered by today's aficionados of smooth, sophisticated '60s pop, among the general public her career as a performer was ultimately dwarfed by the events of her personal life, most regrettably the 1976 shooting which killed her boyfriend, skiing star Spider Sabich. Longet was born in Paris on January 29, 1942; according to an excellent article in the magazine Girlyhead, she relocated to the U.S. at age 19, settling in Las Vegas and becoming the lead dancer in the Folies Berg+¿re show. There she met crooner Andy Williams, with whom she'd earlier crossed paths while still a child in Paris. They were married in 1961, although the 14-year difference in their ages was the source of much controversy among Williams' fans.
During the early years of her marriage to Williams, Longet put her career on hold to start a family; resurfacing in 1964, she appeared as a guest star on television series including [RoviLink="VW"]Combat!, [RoviLink="VW"]Hogan's Heroes, [RoviLink="VW"]Run for Your Life, and [RoviLink="VW"]The Rat Patrol. Not surprisingly, she was also regularly featured on [RoviLink="VW"]The Andy Williams Show. Longet signed to A&M Records in 1966, scoring a minor hit with her debut single "Meditation." Her first LP, Claudine, appeared the next year, gaining moderate airplay for "Hello, Hello" and a cover of the Beatles' "Here, There and Everywhere." The Look of Love appeared later in 1967, and in 1968, Longet issued Love Is Blue; that same year, she co-starred opposite Peter Sellers in the hit film [RoviLink="VW"]The Party.
Also in 1968, Longet issued her fourth album for A&M, Colours. After one final effort for the label, 1970's Run Wild, Run Free, she jumped to Williams' new Barnaby imprint for We've Only Just Begun a year later -- an ironic title given that the couple's marriage had ended just months earlier, although she and their three children continued appearing on his annual television Christmas specials for years to follow. Let's Spend the Night Together, from 1972, was Longet's final official release, although she recorded an album's worth of tracks for a proposed follow-up (finally assembled in 1993 under the title Sugar Me).
As Longet's music career faded, she became romantically involved with Olympic skiing champion Spider Sabich, in 1974 moving with him to Aspen, CO, a getaway for the rich and famous where their neighbors included the likes of Jack Nicholson and John Denver. On the morning of March 21, 1976, Sabich was shot and killed when his L++ger pistol went off in Longet's hand; around Aspen, many demonized the tragedy as a case of cold-blooded murder -- rumors about the couple's souring romance swirled endlessly -- although the resulting trial found Longet guilty only on charges of criminal negligence, for which she served 30 days in jail. Upon her release, she married her defense attorney, Ron Austin, and remained in Aspen, although in the years to follow she appeared in public only rarely. ~ Jason Ankeny
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