The Truth About The Death Of Claudine Longet's Boyfriend

The name Claudine Longet may not ring many bells these days, but there was a time when the French-American ingénue turned heads and generated headlines in equal measure. Born in Paris in 1942, Longet traded Europe for Las Vegas as a teen and landed a job dancing at the Folies Bergere, says Biography. It was around this time that Longet met singer Andy Williams (of "Moon River" fame). The two married and had three children together before separating in 1969 (and divorcing six years later).

Throughout the early- to mid-'60s Longet worked small parts on TV shows and often appeared on her husband's specials. It wasn't until she performed as a singer on an episode of a TV show and drew the attention of recording artist Herb Alpert, though, that her second career took off. Soon, Longet was known more for her singing than her acting. While she was never a breakout star, she did release several albums and also charted on the U.S. adult contemporary charts.

Sadly, though, it's not Longet's acting career, music, or even her marriage to Andy Williams, for which she's most remembered now — it's the time she shot and killed her Olympic skier boyfriend, Vladimir "Spider" Sabich.

Claudine Longet and the death of Spider Sabich

The events of March 21, 1976, have been called "the single biggest scandal in skiing history" by the skiing enthusiast blog SnowBrains, and with good reason — despite some pretty damning evidence, Longet was sentenced to only a $250 fine and 30 days in jail (which she was allowed to serve on weekends) for the shooting.

While there's no dispute Longet fired the gun that night, it's her version of the events that have raised suspicion. At the time, Sabich (above) was a handsome Olympian and one of the country's most famous skiers, living a freewheeling bachelor life in the ski mecca of Aspen. When Longet and her three children joined him, tensions flared, says SnowBrains. The two were also alleged to have greatly enjoyed alcohol and drugs, adding to the turmoil.

On the night in question, Sabich was in the bathroom when Longet shot him. She claims that he had been showing her the gun, which accidentally went off. Others paint a different picture of an intentional shooting. Either way, Sabich died on his way to the hospital. Despite Longet's claims of an accident, she was charged with reckless manslaughter, according to The Vintage News, for her role in his death.

The trial and Claudine Longet's life afterward

The sensationalism of the case, combined with the very visible support of her ex-husband, Andy Williams (above, with Longet in happier times) throughout the trial, captured the public's attention.

Whether due to the spotlight or simple negligence, the police made an error in the hours after the shooting that had a dramatic impact on the prosecution's case. Despite not having a warrant, police took a sample of Longet's blood (which, per The Vintage News, they claimed showed evidence of cocaine) and her diary — presumably an attempt to give the court a glimpse into the couple's relationship woes. The court ruled the evidence inadmissible.

In the end, the jury took only four hours to deliberate and found Longet guilty only of criminally negligent homicide, a misdemeanor. Despite the negative attention she received in Aspen, she still chose to stay in the tony resort community following her trial. Criticism grew even worse when Longet took up with her married defense attorney, who soon left his wife for her.

The two are still together and living in Aspen, reports The Vintage News. As for Longet's side of the story all the years later, we'll likely never get to hear it. She signed a confidentiality agreement with Sabich's family to never discuss the case as a condition of them dropping a civil suit against her — both Biography and GQ put the price tag at $780,000.