This article was on the back cover of an Australian pressing of Run Wild, Run Free. Thanks to a Dutch fan for supplying a scan of the text. It's clear that the writing has some language problems (poor translation?) but I left the text basically untouched, beyond correcting a few typos.
Claudine Longet is not the plumed plum, nor the French Pastry, nor the image-makers' delight.
She is French, granted, in her mid-twenties, and perhaps happy. But about her there is something quite wistful and a little sad like wearing black on a rainy L.A. day. For she is the intense little girl running through a series of dark rooms, perhaps recording studios, towards the word "EXIT" marked clearly above the doors to freedom.
Her base is dramatic, and her voice is at times heavier in person than you might expect, as opposed to the cute, cuddly, little wispy French voice echoing in a thousand confections, and sweetened by engineering to the degree of wispiness.
But Claudine is human, and therefore vulnerable in an age that is finally recognizing vulnerability as an art form.
Claudine did not come down from a cloud like Mary Poppins, nor from a silver swing in a revue called the Folies Bergere in Paris.
She emerged after a concentrated effort at dramatics that brought her in contact with some of the most exciting and controversial artists of the French theatre in the early 1950's including dramatist Jean Cocteau, and actor Jean Pierre Aumont.
But this is all ahead of the story.
Claudine was born in the 14th District of Paris -- close to the Seine and in an area populated mostly by art students. "It is the centre of Paris," says Claudine with pride, and adds, "It is where the Existentialist movement began and where I began."
Claudine's childhood 14th District "was alive, very Parisian. The tourists never went there. It was all for the students, vital, electric, and stimulating."
At a very young age Claudine knew she wanted to be a dramatic actress so she was enrolled in the only theatrical school in Europe, the Academy of Arts, that took in professional children who had chosen the theatre as a life style. While in school Claudine became a member of the Paris Nation Theatre, and besides pursuing the dramatic, also involved herself in classical ballet.
When she was 10 years old she appeared in Henry James' ghost-incest-symbolism play, "Turn of the Screw." In her first dramatic outing Claudine portrayed Flora, the possessed little girl. "It was a very gloomy, weary play," reminisces Miss Longet. "Many people were afraid that it would have a bad effect on the children in it -- but it never bothered me. I was too happy. I do think that I understood it though -- even at 10."
Claudine appeared in her first major production at 15. She had already met Jean Cocteau, surrealist, dramatist, author, motion picture producer-director, and he had signed her to appear in the "The Infernal Machine." Based on the Greek tragedy, Miss Longet played Antigone and appeared with Jean Pierre Aumont.
At 16 Claudine was heavily involved with one of the first major attempts at modern repertoire theatre in Paris. She appeared in plays by Shaw, Cocteau, and other modernists. She was the youngest member of the troupe, but was mature enough to hold her own with the most dedicated of performers.
Eventually Claudine went to Italy and appeared in a play called "A Trapeze for Lysistrata" in Italian at the age of 17. She met an old girlfriend who told the young actress that she was going to the United States with the Folies Bergere. She asked Claudine if she would like to go along as a member of the ballet.
Claudine's training in the dance had been classically oriented and the role she was asked to dance was of the modern school. "I auditioned for the Folies, faked it, and was hired. It was not really the Folies though, but an act that was incorporated in the revue."
The Folies made its debut in Las Vegas in 1960 to fantastic acclaim, and nudity in the U.S. was raised to a new art. Claudine was 18 and fascinated by the new western scene -- "the cowboys, horses, deserts, the gaudiness, the infinite pretend. It was glamorous."
The dance act in which Claudine worked was very "sophisticated and modern" as she terms it. "I was signed with it for three months, but stayed for a year and a half because I loved the atmosphere of the West so much. My parents began to become quite impatient about my returning to France. You must remember that they had really nothing to do with the theatre, but had encouraged me to be a part of it if that was really what I wanted to do. Finally they told me to return or else, and I did."
Between the time Claudine had arrived in Vegas and returned home she had seen vocalist Andy Williams again. She had first met him in France. They fell in love. Andy followed Claudine to Paris, and they were eventually married.
Claudine returned to the U.S. and her dramatic career in the U.S. began with appearances on "Combat," "Hogan's Heroes," "Dr. Kildare," ad infinitum. On a "Run For Your Life" segment Claudine sang one little song, "Meditation." It was this tune that brought her to the attention of Herb Alpert at A&M and launched her as a professional singer with her first album for the label, "Claudine."
The first albums "Claudine" and "The Look of Love" sold well, with "Claudine" making it to the Top 10 charts.
Claudine says of her instant success as a recording artist, "Basically I am dramatic, and this singing thing happened by accident. It was something I felt I could never do, and it took me completely by surprise. So now people are more aware of me as a singer rather than a dramatic actress."
What Claudine was doing on her first three albums, she says, was basically following a predictable path or what producer Tommy Li Puma told her to do letter for letter. "He would say red, and I would say red, because I didn't know the ropes so to speak. I felt I didn't belong, and didn't know how to do it."
Now Miss Longet feels that she is getting more involved with music and singing. Her last album, "Colours," featured songs by contemporary writers Randy Newman, Donovan, Simon and Garfunkel, and Gordon Lightfoot. It is with these artists that Claudine feels she is really becoming "involved" for the first time in her singing career.
Claudine explains that this new feeling she has for music is "Like a tiny little door that opens up, and you wonder, my God, what's in there? Singing is not yet something vital for me, something that I have to protect. But it's getting to be fun all of a sudden. It's the first time that I've felt ready to do it on my own, and not because I have an accent or a little voice."
Claudine cites the Beatles, the Stones, and all the new pop performers who have become what they are today by taking chances and being themselves. She wants to take chances now. "I'm ready for another dimension. I feel that I now want to sit down with my producer and try things, new chords, new phrasings."
Because of the lightness of her first three albums, Claudine has always been thought of as a frothy, light, fluffy performer. Of this image she says, "I'm not bubbly. Songs like 'Hello, Hello' are still there within me, but I feel much more comfortable with Randy's songs. You see, when I first started in the business of singing, I just sang. The musicians did something and I went along with it -- sort of independently. The music was recorded first, then I came in and tried to fit in the vocal. And that was that."
Claudine labels her new album "a together creation. It was stimulating. I often feel that recording is like going through all the creating and then seeing this sign that says 'EXIT," and going through that door with no regrets, because there are other things in my life which are more important than my career -- my home and my children."
Claudine asks the question, "Who knows who I am? I am always changing like life. I want to try new things, and I will."