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With her mobile hips, her sultry voice and her free-wheeling outlook on love, Abbe Lane has well earned the crown of...

Abbe Lane"The Swingingest Sexpot In Show Business"

By Frank Thistle



vol. 7 no. 4, 1963

    JAYNE MANSFIELDmay turn the boys into men, but I take them from there."
    This provocative comment comes from the lips of Abbe Lane, the voluptuous vocalist, dancer and actress. Undeniably, Abbe is all woman. As one male gasped after watching her performance with the Xavier Cugat orchestra, "She makes Jayne Mansfield look like a boy."
    Few men who have seen Abbe on stage would disagree with the appraisal, for Abbe in action is truly a sight to behold. It leaves no doubt as to how she gained her reputation as the swingingest sexpot in show business.
    During a recent engagement at the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles, Abbe turned in a performance that kept even the blasé Hollywood set spellbound. She slithered on stage in one of the tightest-fitting gowns ever to adorn a female body. It fitted her like another layer of skin.
    She sang her first number, "What ever Lola Wants, Lola Gets," in a throaty, sex-drenched voice. It wasn't the song, however, that caused the males in the audience to squirm in their seats. You see, Abbe puts more into a song than just her voice. She has a captivating habit of undulating her bountiful body in the same intense, rhythmic manner with which she shakes the maracas. And her torrid torso-tossing during a rhumba forcibly reminds you that it was originally an African mating dance.
    Abbe stayed on the move with such numbers as "Lazy River," which sounded more like a sex pond the way she chirped it, and "Never on Sunday," her rendition of which made all the males in the audience wish it was early Monday morning. She displayed an exceedingly mobile abdomen during the hot-cha Latin rhythms which climaxed her act. Amid a rousing ovation, Abbe wiggled off the stage, her bounding derriere the focal point of all eyes.
    In her dressing room, Abbe expounded on her future plans and her feelings about being a sex symbol as articulately as she had conveyed her "message" on stage.
    "There's much more to me than a wiggle," Abbe told us.
    We nodded, gazing rather obviously at her low neckline. Abbe laughed.
    "Well, my necklines don't plunge all the way to my middle," she said defensively, "but I couldn't safely call them Victorian either. Seriously, no facet of talent and no physical asset either should be hidden from your audience."
    We told her we thought she was doing an admirable job of not concealing either.
    "But I'm not content with being just a sex symbol," Abbe said. "I want to become a woman and an actress, not just a sexy girl. What I have to do is show people I have talent in addition to sex appeal. I have hopes of doing some serious film roles in the United States, and of acting in good dramatic shows on television."
    Abbe explained that although she has been in show business for half of her 30 years, she has not been able to crack the movies in Holly wood. She did appear in several Hollywood films during the early part of her career, but she had only bit parts which showed off her physical assets rather than her acting ability.
    "Since then I've turned down Hollywood roles because they weren't right for me," Abbe said. "I was only offered the kind of parts in which the girl was used for decorative purposes."
    Abbe pointed out that she's had much better luck with roles in foreign films, mostly in Italy.
    "In Italy they had no preconceived idea of what I was like in the United States," she said. "I did a variety of roles, among them a doctor, a thief, a secretary and a bad girl."
    We asked Abbe if living in Italy had changed her very much.
    "Yes, it's made me think differently," she said, "and slow down. Theirs is an old civilization and the Italians have an entirely different feeling about time. They live for the day and don't worry about their business problems the way we do. The whole atmosphere is more relaxed, and you hear nothing about ulcers, and no one needs sleeping pills. Latins love women and are very articulate about it. If you walk down the street and a stranger or a workman admires you, he'll give voice to it."
    We said we had heard that fanny- pinching was one of the most popular ways in which Italian men show their affection for girls on the street. Abbe nodded knowingly and continued.
    "They get such obvious pleasure when you take time to make your self look attractive," she said. "An American never seems to notice all the little things that they do. I found that you don't have to be so obvious about sex appeal. In America I felt I had to make a bid for attention. But Italian men do not require dyed hair, tight dresses or a low cleavage to appreciate a woman. To them, sex is more important than business.
    We asked Abbe if Italian men were as bosom-conscious as American men.
    "No," she said. "They love hips more than bosoms and feel that hips are the most appealing part of the feminine anatomy. Personally, I think hips are sexy, and no matter what the fashion is, I'll never try to reduce mine.
    Abbe's hips have been a definite asset in her climb up the show business ladder, as anyone who has seen her current stage routine can testify. But she got her start in show business on the strength of her voice. She made her professional debut by singing a song on a radio program at the age of four. Three years later she appeared in some movie shorts.
    "These were made at the Vita- phone Corporation in Brooklyn," Abbe recalled, "and I did a little song and dance in each of them. I loved the work and even as a kid I was determined to make this a career. Papa wanted me to be a teach er. Mama wanted me to sing. Eventually we women banded together and won the argument."
    At the age of 15, after she had blossomed out physically with curves to spare, Abbe left her home town of Brooklyn for Broadway and a song and dance role in the George Abbot production of Barefoot Boy with. Cheek.
    "I had to bend the truth as far as my age was concerned," she confessed, "because there was a law in New York about girls working in musicals if they were under 16. When I turned 16 I got two jobs that ran simultaneously. I was a featured vocalist on the Vincent Lopez television show and I worked in Michael Todd production of As the Girls Go. That's when I met Cugie.
    "He was looking for a new vocalist when he saw me doing a calypso number in the stage show one night. The very next day Cugie was a guest with Vincent Lopez and he saw me again. He liked my style and voice and asked me to audition the next day. I did and he hired me."
    Cugat took more than a professional interest in his young shapely vocalist, and in 1952 married her.
    "We got married in Miami and on our honeymoon I came down with the measles, of all things," Abbe reminisced, "Everyone said, 'You married a typically jealous Latin lover. He'll stand over you with a stiletto.' But it didn't turn out that way at all. Oh, all the columnists write stories about Cugie's jealousy. But I wouldn't say he was jealous. I'd say he was Latin.
    "He gets that gleam in his eye when another man looks at me, true. But I've never really done anything to give him any cause to doubt me. Cugie knows he's the only man for me. We have a wonderful relation ship. He's helped me, obviously, in my career. But I think I've helped him as a person."
    Although Abbe is happily married and has reached such an exalted place in show business that 99 out of 100 starry-eyed girls would swap places with her, she maintains she will not be completely happy until she becomes a successful dramatic actress in American movies.
    "When I first began singing as a vocalist with Cugie's orchestra, no body thought of me as a singer--just a showpiece to stand in front of the band," Abbe said. "But then I proved that I could sing; now I want to show people that I can act.
    "The thing that galls me is that Hollywood is importing all its new talent from Europe," she pouted. "Why couldn't they just discover me at home?"
    We suggested that maybe she should have acted like Brigitte Bardot in her films overseas.
    "I have never wanted. to do what Bardot does--they already think I'm too sexy for TV--but I'm beginning to change my mind. Oh, I wouldn't go as far as she did. And I wouldn't do a movie just to be seen in a bath tub--I'd want to have a good part, too. I'd like to do a womanly role without obvious sex appeal, or a comedy of the Doris Day type."
    "Wouldn't you hate to lose your identity as the swingingest sexpot in show business?" we asked.
    "You don't have to divorce sex from drama or comedy," Abbe said. "I'm a woman and I'm proud of my sex--but it has to be integrated. It has to fit the part. Naturally you can't expect the public to forget about sex if you walk around with your body exposed."
    Abbe floored us with her next remark.
    "The plight of my life is trying to be a sweet-looking little girl," she moaned. "It's the reason a Hollywood producer won't give me a good dramatic part. They have a standard brand of sex appeal they won't break away from. If a girl is a bad girl, she's always one type, and if she's good, she's always Peter Pan. I'm trying to crawl out of my sexpot image so that I can land a good dramatic part in Hollywood."
    At this point Cugat appeared and said: "She's like a general. She knows what she wants and how to get it."
    Whether or not Abbe achieves her goal of becoming a successful serious actress in Hollywood remains to be seen. But one thing's for sure. If she does, more than a few men are going to be very disappointed. They like Abbe Lane just as she is--the swingingest sexpot in show business.



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