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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Sonja Henie


Sonja Henie was born in Kristiania, current Oslo, the only daughter of Wilhelm Henie , a prosperous Norwegian furrier, and his wife Selma Lochmann-Nielsen..

Wilhelm Henie had been a one-time World Cycling Champion and the Henie children were encouraged to take up a variety of sports at a young age. Sonja  initially showed talent at skiing, and then followed her older brother Leif to take up figure skating. Her father hired the best experts in the world, including the famous Russian ballerina Tamara Karsavina, to transform his daughter into a sporting celebrity.


Henie won her first major competition, the senior Norwegian championships, at the age of 10. She then placed eighth in a field of eight at the 1924 Winter Olympics, at the age of eleven.

She won the first of an unprecedented ten consecutive World Figure Skating Championships in 1927 at the age of fourteen.

Henie went on to win first of her three Olympic gold medals in 1928.  The "Norwegian doll" defended her Olympic titles in 1932 and in 1936. Her unprecedented three Olympic gold medals haven't been matched by any ladies' single skater since.

Sonja Henie at the 1936 Olympics

Sonja Henie was the first to introduce the mini-skirt. She did this in 1924 for professional reasons. In the beginning people were shocked, but soon other skaters copied her, realizing the freedom of movement the abbreviated skirt gave.

She is credited with introducing music and dance-based movements into free-skating and thus greatly broadening the public for what had been a previously technical event.  Henie's innovative skating techniques and glamorous demeanor transformed the sport permanently and confirmed its acceptance as a legitimate sport in the Winter Olympics


After the 1936 World Figure Skating Championships, Henie gave up her amateur status and took up a career as a professional performer in acting and live shows. Her supreme art on the ice captured the public's imagination and drew enormous crowds. "To skate like Sonja Henie" became a world-wide endeavor.

Following a successful ice show in Los Angeles orchestrated by her father to launch her film career, Hollywood studio chief Darryl Zanuck signed Henie to a long term contract at Twentieth Century Fox, which made her one of the highest-paid actresses of the time. After the success of her first film, One in a Million, Henie's position was assured

At the height of her fame, Heine's shows and touring activities brought her as much as $2 million per year. She also had numerous lucrative endorsement contracts, and deals to market skates, clothing, jewelry, dolls, and other merchandise branded with her name. These activities made her one of the wealthiest women in the world in her time.

Sonja Henie CINEGRAF magazine Wikipedia

Sonja Henie died of leukemia at the age of 57 on October 12, 1969 during a flight from Paris to Oslo. She is buried with Onstad in Oslo on the hilltop overlooking the Henie-Onstad Art Centre.

Sources Wikipedia, Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999. 

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