You might not be too familiar with the name Claudine Longet, but there was once a time when the French-American ingenue routinely turned heads and wound up in the headlines fairly regularly. She was born in Paris, France in 1942 but left Europe as a teenager and landed a gig dancing at the Folies Bergere in Las Vegas.
Right around that time, she met singer-songwriter Andy Williams who some might remember wrote the hit tune Moon River. The two briefly dated before tying the knot. They went on to have three children together before separating in 1969. They officially got divorced, however, some six years later in 1975.
Throughout the early to mid-1960s, Longet appeared in small roles on television shows while making frequent appearances on her husband’s specials. But when she performed a bossa nova track as a singer on an episode of a popular TV show, she caught the attention of recording star Herb Alpert.
Seemingly overnight Longet was more famous for her singing skills than her acting abilities. While she never dominated the charts, she did record and release a handful of albums that performed modestly on the US adult contemporary charts.
Unfortunately, it’s not her acting or musical career or even her brief marriage to Andy Williams that she is remembered most for these days. It’s the time that she allegedly murdered her Olympic Skier boyfriend, Vladimir ‘Spider’ Sabich that has earned her a special place in the history books – but we’ll get to that in a moment. Let’s first take a little look at her early life and rise to fame.
Longet Met Andy Williams When She Was Still A Las Vegas Showgirl
Longet married Andy Williams in December 1961. That happened to be the same year that the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s premiered and popularized his signature song, Moon River.
When Williams and Longet met, she was still a teenager working as a Las Vegas showgirl. There is a bit of confusion over how they met it seems. One version of events has Williams coming to Longet’s rescue in his limousine after her car broke down on the strip, while Williams once claimed to remember seeing Longet roller-skating near the Louvre in Paris almost a decade before they were formally introduced. More than likely, however, they met while Longet was dancing at the Tropicana Casino in 1960.
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And stay tuned to learn the shocking details of Longet’s involvement in Spider Sabich’s death. Was she a really cold blooded killer as some people seem to believe or was she just an unlikely victim of awfully unfortunate circumstances? You’ll have to be the judge on that one.
Herb Alpert Helped Set Longet’s Career In Motion
As we already briefly touched on, it was Longet’s appearance on her husband’s show that helped launch both her acting and singing careers. But it was when she played guitar and sang a Bossa Nova song called ‘Meditation’ on the NBC drama ‘Run For Your Life’, that audiences everywhere flooded the NBC switchboard inquiring about the young performer.
Williams told his buddy Herb Alpert about the commotion and after watching a tape of the show featuring her performance, he signed her to his label immediately.
Longet ended up releasing five albums on Alpert’s A&M record label. Willaims described her music as ‘easy-listening songs’ featuring a distinguished ‘sexy accent’. Williams then proceeded to invite Longet to join his label, Barnaby. She went on to release two more albums – one of which, Claudine, sold over a million copies.
Longet And Williams Named Their Son After RFK
After walking down the aisle in 1961, Longet and Williams found themselves in a circle of prestigious acquaintances that included the likes of high-profile folks like Barbara Streisand, John Glenn, and even senator Robert F. Kennedy.
Longet and her husband were among Kennedy’s closest allies during his 1968 democratic presidential run even though Williams was a card-carrying Republican. The duo even had planned on meeting up with him on the evening that he was assassinated on June 5, 1968.
Williams sang the ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ at Kennedy’s funeral which he later said was one of the hardest things that he ever had to do. Williams and Longet ended up honoring their fallen friend by naming their youngest son, Robert, in his memory.
After Longet and Williams separated, rumors started to spread that Williams was romantically involved with Kennedy’s widow, Ethel. He went on Larry King in 2000 hoping to set the record straight on that matter. He claimed that he and Ethel were nothing more than very good friends, but even so, he and Longet loved both her and her late husband very much.
The Death Of Spider Sabich
What went down on March 21, 1975, has been called the single biggest controversy in skiing history. Despite some pretty compelling evidence, Longet was only sentenced to 30 days in jail with a $250 fine for her involvement in Spider’s death. And get this, she was even permitted to serve her time in bite-sized increments every weekend instead of serving it all at once. So basically, she got off with just a slap on the wrist.
While there’s no one trying to say that anyone other than Longet pulled the trigger that night, it’s her version of the story that has raised some eyebrows.
Sabich was at that time an astonishingly handsome and talented Olympic athlete and one of the world’s most famous skiers.
He lived a lavish life as a bachelor in the affluent ski mecca town of Aspen, Colorado. But After Longet and her three children joined him, things started going downhill pretty quickly. Not only was their relationship fairly volatile but they were also allegedly quite fond of doing lots of drinking and drugging together which of course made matters worse.
On the night of his death, Sabich was in the bathroom when Longet shot him. She tried to claim that he was just showing her the weapon when it was accidentally discharged. Others however are skeptical of her account and paint a much different picture of what went down that evening. During her trial, several people close to Sabich and Longet came forward and expressed their belief that she intentionally shot Spider in cold blood.
Regardless, Sabich died en route to the hospital. Although she claimed the slaying was purely accidental, law enforcement still slapped her with a reckless manslaughter charger for her role in his death.
The Trial And Aftermath
The trial was nothing short of sensational. Longet’s ex-husband, Andy Williams, was very visibly supportive of her throughout the trial which only captivated the public’s attention all the more so.
The Police made an error in their investigation in the hours after the shooting that ended up having a profound impact on the prosecution’s case. Whether this was intentional or just an act of negligence is anyone’s guess.
Even though they didn’t have a warrant, law enforcement took a sample of Longet’s blood which they claimed revealed that she had cocaine in her system at the time of the crime. It’s assumed that this was an attempt of some kind to cast doubt on the couple’s relationship troubles. The court ultimately ruled that this ‘evidence’ was inadmissible.
The jury took just four hours of deliberation before finding Longet guilty of only the relatively minor misdemeanor charge of criminally negligent homicide. Even though she had made a lot of enemies in Aspen after the death of Spider, she continued to live in the wealthy resort community after her trial. Criticism of her character only mounted after she engaged in an affair with her married defense attorney who of course left his wife to go live with her.
The two are actually still together living in Aspen. And as far as Longet’s side of the story goes after all these decades, we’ll likely never get the chance to hear it because she signed a confidentiality agreement with Sabich’s family. If she ever discusses the case, they would have the right to slap her with a civil suit for the sum of $780,000.
Well, that’s about all the time we’ve got left for this video, and considering the stipulations of that nondisclosure agreement, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever learn anything new about this case, But what do you think? Was Claudine Longet a cold-blooded killer or was her boyfriend Spider Sabich really killed by a cruel stroke of fate? Let us know what you think in the comments section below. And feel free to share any pet theories you might have about what really might have happened on that chilly winter’s eve in Aspen.
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