Sonja Henie Poster

Trivia (20)

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.

Henie was one of 20th Century-Fox's biggest stars of the 1930s, placing among the Top Ten Box Office draws 3 times: 1937 (#8) 1938 (#3) and 1939 (#10). Her appeal plummeted when she was thought to be a Nazi sympathizer, and her film career never recovered.

Throughout her career at 20th Century-Fox, Henie was a savvy contract negotiator, and at one point was paid more per picture than Shirley Temple, who was a much bigger box office draw (the year Henie peaked at #3, Temple was still #1). Fox studio head Daryl F. Zanuck was said to resent the exorbitant fees Henie got for her work, and was reputedly delighted when her contact finally expired in the early 1940s.

When Henie made her first American film One on a Million, she barely spoke English and had to be taught her dialogue phonetically. When the film proved to be an enormous box office hit, Henie presumed her lack of language skills was an important element of her appeal to movie-goers and refused 20th Century-Fox's offer to hire her a coach to teach her proper English. Her heavy, sometimes unintelligible Norwegian accent remained throughout her film career.

After her film career had run its course, Henie stayed in the public eye by producing and starring in a series of live, touring ice shows and extravaganzas until just before her death in 1969.

To accommodate shooting the skating scenes that were featured in each of Henie's films, 20th Century-Fox jack-hammered the cement floor from one of their soundstages and put in a series of water-pipes and Freon tubing to create ice. Even with the fortune they had spent on the conversion, it was next to impossible to keep the ice frozen under the hot lights (especially if they were filming with the even hotter lights required for Technicolor) and a veneer of rippling water atop the ice can be discerned in many of Henie's big musical numbers.

Throughout her film career, Henie rarely ice skated one-on-one with a male partner for more than a brief lift or two. It remains unclear whether this was because no one could keep up with her on the ice...or Henie's famous ego wouldn't let anyone share the screen with her during her big ice-dancing numbers.