Olympics to Hollywood: Sonja Henie

Sonja Henie

She was the youngest athlete in the first Winter Olympics, the first woman to win three Olympic gold medals, and one of Hollywood’s top-grossing stars.

Norwegian athlete turned actress Sonja Henie skated across the silver screen in 12 films, bringing a novelty to movies and helping popularize figure skating in the United States.

“People would go out and buy skates, costumes and take lessons because of her. Ice skating developed in the United States because of her,” Henie’s former skating partner Geary Steffen said in the documentary “Sonja Henie: Queen of the Ice” (1995).

Born in Norway in 1912, Henie’s father, Wilhelm, was the track cycling World Champion of 1894, setting two world records, and he was a speed skater. Because of his athletic interest, Wilhelm encouraged his children Leif and Sonja to become involved with sports, according to the documentary.

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