The following is a guest post from Senior Music Cataloger retiree Sharon McKinley.
Are you already suffering from post-Olympics letdown? Just think about the athletes, who work non-stop towards that goal of standing on the podium, and afterwards may simply become has-beens. Of course, many athletes, past and present, have managed to capitalize on their notoriety. Figure skaters in particular have often found a comfortable post-retirement niche in touring ice shows.
Sonja Henie, the Norwegian 3-time Olympic champion (1928, 1932, and 1936) was one of the winningest skaters ever, and parlayed her status into a successful touring and film career. As the woman who is credited for helping to turn figure skating into a glamor sport, she must have had a good sense of what her audience would want: frothy plots with lavish skating numbers. Henie made a series of successful films for Twentieth Century-Fox. The It’s Showtime database includes numbers from many of these films, including One in a Million, Second Fiddle, Sun Valley Serenade, The Countess of Monte Cristo, Hello London, and Holiday on Ice (1956). Irving Berlin wrote the music for Second Fiddle, starring Henie, Tyrone Power, and Rudy Vallee. Berlin’s score is not considered to be among his better music, but “I poured my heart into a song” (the manuscript for which is held in the Library’s Irving Berlin Collection) was nominated for an Academy award.
So when you want a fix of Olympic champions, grab some popcorn and enjoy one of Sonja Henie’s films as she shares her skating artistry and film music with the world. There are more photographs of Henie to be located in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog, so take a look!