What more could a woman want?” singer-actress Claudine Longet once boasted to a friend. “I have my husband, my children and my lover.” The husband was singer Andy Williams; the lover, ruggedly handsome Vladimir (“Spider”) Sabich, 31, one of the most daring racers on the international pro ski circuit. In 1975, after a separation of nearly five years, Longet, 35, was granted a divorce from Williams. Then last week, in the rustically elegant stone-and-log house near Aspen, Colo. that Claudine and her three children shared with Sabich, the skier was shot and killed with a .22-caliber pistol.
Claudine, who had been seen with friends earlier in the day at a local pub known as the Center, told police Sabich had been showing her how to handle the gun when it accidentally discharged. She is scheduled to appear in court April 8 to learn if she will be formally accused. Although friends accept Longet’s account of the tragedy, they describe her four-year liaison with Sabich as turbulent. “They have had violent fights in public, screaming at each other,” said one. And it was widely reported in Starwood, an exclusive residential enclave where many of Aspen’s beautiful people dwell, that Sabich had told Claudine to move out of his $250,000 house by April 1. He still loved her, friends say, but felt confined by the constant presence of Longet and the children.
During Claudine’s off-and-on two-year life in Aspen, Sabich’s house, with its built-in sauna and living room waterbed, became a favorite partying spot. “Both of them played it pretty fast and loose,” said a friend. In that respect, Sabich and Longet fitted easily into the freewheeling Aspen scene. Once a quiet ski and summer festival town, Aspen has in recent years acquired a racier image and a reputation for jet-set fun and games.
Despite their estrangement, Longet apparently remained friends with her ex-husband. She and the three children continued to appear on Williams’ television specials. “They have a relationship,” shrugged one of Williams’ associates. “I happen to believe it’s based on the kids.”
When he learned of the shooting, however, Williams reacted without hesitation. Flying into Aspen with several private detectives, he retreated with Claudine to singer John Denver’s home in Starwood. Later Williams accompanied his tearful ex-wife into court for a hearing. Whatever the outcome of the case—she was released for the moment on $5,000 bail—it seemed apparent that they would face it together.