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Sonja Henie

Real name: Sonja Henie
Birthdate: April 8, 1912
Status: Married
Partner: Niels Onstad

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Biography

Sonja Henie (April 8, 1912 - October 12, 1969) was a Norwegian figure skater and actress. She is a three-time Olympic Champion (1928, 1932, 1936), a ten-time World Champion (1927-1936) and a six-time European Champion (1931-1936). Henie won more Olympic and World titles than any other ladies figure skater. At the height of her acting-career she was one of the highest paid movie-stars in Hollywood.

Sonja Henie was born in Kristiania, current Oslo, the daughter of Wilhelm Henie, a one-time World Cycling Champion and a prosperous Norwegian fur trader. Her father hired the best experts in the world, including the famous Russian ballerina Tamara Karsavina, to transform his daughter into a sporting celebrity. She took the gold medal in the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Winter Olympics. She first placed eighth in a field of eight at the 1924 Winter Olympics, at the age of eleven. During the 1924 program, she skated over to the side of the rink several times to ask her coach for directions.

After the 1936 Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, she gave up her amateur status and took up a career as a professional performer in acting and live shows. She mostly performed in the United States, but had triumphant shows in Norway in 1953 and 1955. In 1938 she published her autobiography, which was republished in a revised edition in 1954. In 1941, she became a naturalized citizen of the United States. She retired from acting in 1958 with the film Hello, London. She became one of the wealthiest women in the world in her time.

Henie was married three times, with Dan Topping, Winthrop Gardiner, and finally the wealthy Norwegian shipowner and art patron Niels Onstad in 1956. Together, Henie and Onstad settled in Oslo and accumulated a large collection of modern art that formed the basis for the Henie-Onstad Art Centre at Høvikodden, near Oslo.

In 1938, at age 25, she became the youngest person made a knight first class of The Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav.

In 1936, her career was damaged after taking a picture shaking hands with Adolf Hitler and agreeing to have breakfast with the Nazi leader at his residence at Berchtesgaden, something the Norwegian people never forgave her for. She kept Contacts to high-ranking Nazis until the 40s.

In 1939, Walt Disney released the animated short, "The Hockey Champ," starring Donald Duck and his three nephews. In the cartoon, Donald Duck parodies/imitates Henie, complete with short, curly hair and long, dark eyelashes, as he figure skates on the ice.

In the film Caddyshack, when asked to select an alternate, Chevy Chase's character says "Well, Sonja Henie's out."

In the "Are You Being Served?" episode "Cold Comfort", Mr. Lucas exits the lift (elevator) wearing a pair of ice skates around his neck. Upon seeing this, Mr. Humphries states, "Oh look! It's Sonja Henie!"



 


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