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Sonja Henie Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (14) | Personal Quotes (3) | Salary (2)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 8 April 1912Kristiania, Norway. [now Oslo, Norway]
Date of Death 12 October 1969en route by air to Oslo, Norway  (leukemia)
Nickname Pavlova of the Ice
Height 5' 3" (1.6 m)

Mini Bio (2)

The daughter of a fur wholesaler in Norway, Sonja Henie received her first pair of ice skates when she was six. At 14 she was the Norwegian Skating Champion. At 15 she would win the Olympic gold medal in Skating, a feat she would repeat in 1932 and 1936. In 1936 she would turn professional and tour with her own ice show. She was signed by 20th Century-Fox and debuted in One in a Million (1936), in which she played an ice skater. The picture was very successful, Sonja continued to make a series of light comedies throughout the late 1930s and early 1940s. More a testament to her skating skills and physical appearance than her acting prowess, the films were nevertheless profitable and her popularity soared. Her films' success garnered financial success for the Hollywood Ice Revues that she produced and starred every year. Her movie career wound down during the mid-'40s, but she continued skating until she retired in 1960. An astute businesswoman and due to marrying shipping magnate Niels Onstad ("the Onassis of Norway") in 1956, Sonja was one of the ten wealthiest women in the world when she died of leukemia in 1969.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Sonja Henie was born on April 8, 1912 in Oslo, Norway. She grew up in a very wealthy family and was encouraged to play sports. Sonja loved playing tennis and she excelled at ice-skating. At the age of ten she won her first ice-skating competition. She competed in the 1924 Winter Olympics and came in eighth place. Sonja became the ice-skating world champion in 1927 and the following year she won an Olympic gold medal. She also won gold medals in the 1932 and 1936 Olympics. After retiring from competitive skating Sonja wanted to pursue an acting career. In 1936 her father financed an extravagant ice show in Hollywood. Darryl Zanuck took notice of the petite blonde and signed her to a contract. Her first film, One In A Million with Adolphe Menjou, was a huge success. Although critics complained about her acting skills and thick accent audiences loved her. She starred in a string of hits including Thin Ice, My Lucky Star, and and Sun Valley Serenade. All of her films included dazzling ice-skating routines which she choreographed herself. By 1939 she was one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. She appeared on the cover of Time magazine and her skates were immortalized at Graumann's Chinese Theatre. In addition to her acting Sonja toured the world performing in ice shows and landed many lucrative endorsement deals. She had high profile romances with Tyrone Power, boxer Joe Louis, and Van Johnson. In 1940 Sonja married businessman Daniel Topping. During World War 2 her connections to the Nazis caused a controversy. She had often performed in Germany and her popularity plummeted when a photo of her with Adolphe Hitler was published. Sonja decided to become a US citizen and supported the USO in their efforts. She divorced Daniel and married Winthrop Gardner, a wealthy aviator, in 1949. By this time her movie career was over. She continued to perform in ice shows and even starred in her own television special. Unfortunately she had a serious drinking problem which eventually forced her to retire. Sonja's marriage to Winthrop ended in 1956. That same year she married shipping magnate Niels Onstad. The couple moved back to Norway and opened a museum to showcase their art collection. In 1968 Sonja was diagnosed with leukemia. She died on October 12, 1969 at the age of 57. Sonja is buried on a hilltop overlooking the Henie-Onstad museum.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Elizabeth Ann

Spouse (3)

Niels Onstad (6 June 1956 - 12 October 1969) (her death)
Winthrop Gardner (15 September 1949 - 14 May 1956) (divorced)
Daniel Topping (4 July 1940 - 13 February 1946) (divorced)

Trivia (14)

Accomplished skier and tennis player
Won 3 olympic gold medals between 1928 and 1936. She was the first skater to parlay her athletic success into a lucrative career.
10 time World Champion Women's Figure Skating according to A&E Biography
She was the youngest Olympic skating champion - 15 years and 10 months of age when she won the 1928 gold medal. This record was beaten only in 1998 by a two-month younger American 'Tara Lipinski'.
Lost popularity when a photograph was published showing her shaking hands with Adolf Hitler.
The photograph of her shaking hands with Adolf Hitler was taken at the 1936 Olympic Winter Games in Germany, and Hitler - being the host nations leader - naturally met several contestants. In that context many claim it's not fair to really judge any of the athletes who encountered Hitler at the games, while others claim Henie should have refused to shake his hand. It is of course easy to judge in retrospect, knowing what we know today of Hitler's later crimes against humanity.
Robbed of jewels twice in six months in 1952
Accumulated a large collection of modern art together with her third husband that formed the basis for the Henie-Onstad Art Centre in the city of Tampere, about 200 km from Oslo. They are buried on the hilltop overlooking the museum.
Became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1941.
Inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame (1976) and the International Women's Sport Hall of Fame (1982).
The signature of her ice skate blades adorns the cement at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
In 1940, when the Nazis invaded Norway, she was out of the country. She telegraphed her maid and told her to place a picture of her with Hitler, which he had autographed, in a prominent place in her house. When the Nazis arrived to take over the house, they saw the picture and left quickly. For the rest of the war, all of her possessions were left untouched by the Nazis.
After she turned pro, she staged a series of successful ice-skating shows with Arthur Wirtz.
Daughter of Wilhelm Henie.

Personal Quotes (3)

[on studio publicity promoting what was an imaginary romance with Tyrone Power] We had to consult the gossip columns every day to see if we were still in love or not.
I want to do with skates what Fred Astaire is doing with dancing.
Jewelry takes people's minds off your wrinkles.

Salary (2)

One in a Million (1936) $400,000
Thin Ice (1937) $125,000

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