Sonja Henie

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Sonja Henie (April 8, 1912-October 12, 1969) was a Norwegian figure skater and actress.

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Sonja Henie

Born in Oslo, Henie took the gold medal in the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Winter Olympics. She had earlier 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.

By the next Olympiad, she needed no such assistance. She won her first of ten consecutive World Figure Skating Championships in 1927 at the age of fifteen, and her first Olympic gold medal the following year. She also won six consecutive European championships.

She is credited with being the first to adopt the short skirt costume in figure skating, and the first to make use of dance choreography. She was also an accomplished tennis player.

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. 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 Gardner, and finally the shipowner Niels Onstad. Together, they accumulated a large collection of modern art that formed the basis for the Henie-Onstad Art Centre at H?dden, near Oslo.

She died in 1969 of leukemia, on a flight from Paris to Oslo. Considered by most as the greatest female figure skater in history, she and her husband are buried on the hilltop overlooking the Henie-Onstad Art Centre.

Filmography

Trivia

Sonja Henie was featured in the Final Jeopardy category on June 15, 2005 as In 1938, at age 25, she became the youngest person made a knight first class of the Order of St. Olav. Alex Trebek called this a "particularly difficult clue".

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