Sandra Mae Trentman, known as Sandy, was a typical small-town girl. She was in grade school when her parents divorced. It was during her seventh-grade year when her mother decided that a change was needed and they left Delphos, Ohio, and headed first to Van Wert, Ohio, for two years and then out west to Arizona. While attending high school in Tucson, her high school algebra teacher asked her to marry him. At 15, she thought this was her only chance and if she said no she would never get asked again so she said yes. They eloped later in San Diego where Sandy’s mother had taken a job at Scripps Hospital. It became clear that a 15-year-old high school girl wasn’t ready to settle down as a housewife and the marriage was annulled after three years.
After a short time studying pre-med at the University of Arizona, a newly-single Sandy recreated herself, now going by Sabrina Scharf (her acting forename was her mother’s maiden name). She drove to New York. When she arrived in the Big Apple, she stopped at a diner in Greenwich Village for a burger and ended up at a long table with members of a local off-Broadway theater group. When they found out she had nowhere to stay they invited her to stay at their theater and become an assistant. She had no intention of being an actress but soon landed a small role in one of the plays at the theater. During rehearsal, it became apparent she was not a born thespian and that acting classes were to be in her future.
The Neighborhood Playhouse had the best acting program but had a strict rule that you had to be a full-time student. During a visit to California to see her mother, her New York agent asked her to meet their West Coast agents in Los Angeles. At that time, Columbia Studios was developing a “talent stable”. Scharf, a former Playboy Bunny by that time, and 11 other actors were signed with Columbia. Her film career began in an episode of Gidget (1965) in 1965.
In 1972, Scharf ran for California State Senate, losing by only 700 votes from more than 250,000 votes cast. If she would have won, Sabrina would have been the first woman elected to California’s upper house. Her husband, Bob Schiller (with whom she had two children), and his writing partner, Bob Weiskopf, were writing for the sitcom Maude (1972) at the time and used the experience as the basis for the “Maude Runs for Congress” episodes. Scharf later worked as a real estate developer in the Greater Los Angeles Area.