SCINTILLATING SIVI

In honor of the rare showing of the controversial Lesbian drama The Killing of Sister George (1968) at the Walter Reade Theatre in New York City (click here for more info) on Feb. 28 below is my profile of co-star Sivi Aberg from my book Glamour Girls of Sixties Hollywood.

A Swedish beauty with long blonde hair, blue eyes, and a fresh wholesome appearance, Sivi Aberg toiled in decorative bit roles in film and television during the Sixties but found fame in the Seventies by just looking pretty as a game show model on The New Treasure Hunt and especially The Gong Show.

Her Groovy ‘60s Credits: Comedian Bob Hope spotted beauty queen Sivi Aberg at the 1964 Miss Universe pageant and offered her a minor role in the comedy I’ll Take Sweden (1965). Surprisingly, Aberg doesn’t appear as a Swede but instead is the pretty coed at a bonfire who canoodles up to Frankie Avalon and offers to take his mind off of vacationing girlfriend Tuesday Weld. In That Funny Feeling (1965) Aberg’s role is even smaller as she is lost amongst the dozens of bodacious beauties who surround playboy editor Bobby Darrin who amazingly prefers the scrawny Sandra Dee. Another bit role followed in Easy Come, Easy Go (1967) as an amorous party guest who hugs and caresses Elvis Presley mistaking him for her friend as he tries to navigate across a crowed dance floor to find Dodie Marshall.

Television offered the curvaceous Swede with the much touted figure measuring 37-24-37 more screen time including multiple episodes of Batman where she joined Marilyn Hanold and Edy Williams as the bagpipe-playing molls to Liberace’s evil piano playing Chandell who kidnaps sweet Aunt Harriet in “The Devil’s Fingers” and “The Dead Ringers,” and a bikini-clad surfer girl who aides the nefarious Joker in “Surf’s Up! The Joker’s Under!” On I Spy, Sivi emerged from the Moroccan desert like a beautiful fair-haired mirage as a German tourist who gives a lift to camel-riding agents Robert Culp and Bill Cosby in “The Honorable Assassins.”

At the 1967 Hollywood Deb Star Ball Sivi Aberg beat out, among others, Celeste Yarnall, Ann Morell, Debbie Watson, and E.J. Peaker to be named “The Hollywood Star of Tomorrow” probably more so for her looks than her body of work as her height (5-foot-8 without heels) lost her a number of roles.

She next took a big career risk for a sixties starlet and played a sexy Lesbian in The Killing of Sister George (1968). Director Robert Aldrich’s groundbreaking drama was one of the first movies to openly deal with lesbianism and one of the first to be slapped with an X-rating. Beryl Reid played the paranoid, alcoholic, overwrought star of a BBC soap opera and Susannah York played her waif-like younger lover. The gorgeous Aberg with her long blonde hair parted in the middle pops up in the bar scene standing out like a Swedish goddess amongst a slew of unattractive butch Lesbians all seeming to sport short cropped hair. Aberg played Diana the miffed girlfriend of one of Reid’s catty friends who abandons her to dance with York. She offers to teach the Reid to dance but the bemused older woman would rather drink at the bar. When Reid comments that the dancers resemble something out of Edgar Allan Poe, the dim-witted Aberg asks, “Edgar who?”

Not surprisingly, the movie did nothing for Sivi’s career and she returned to television making guest appearances on a few series including three cameos on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, Hogan’s Heroes in “LeBeau and the Little Old Lady” in a one-line role as a shapely resistance fighter, and two episodes of Mannix before becoming a regular as one of the original “Operation Entertainment Girls” on the USO-type TV variety show Operation: Entertainment in 1968. Performing for and meeting the troops around the world, Aberg became a favorite pin-up amongst military men. Sivi would later be joined by Thordis Brandt in the second season.

 

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