Thursday, February 11, 2010

Carol Heiss and the Three Stooges

With the Olympic Winter Games starting tomorrow in Vancouver, we take a moment to consider one Olympian. Her name is Carol Heiss, and after playing second to the marvelous Tenley Albright in several national championships and in the 1956 Games of Cortina d’Ampezzo, beat Miss Albright that year in the World Championships. She finally won her own Olympic Gold Medal for ladies’ figure skating in the 1960 Squaw Valley Games, and won several World championships in the late 1950s.

One of that special club of American Gold Medal figure skating ladies, she was a product of the era when the sport was still about figures and less about jumps. Miss Heiss was actually the first female skater to land a double axel. But, then as now, what does a champion do with herself when the contest has been won? Today, with the line blurred between amateur and professional, an Olympic athlete may pick up endorsements and compete professionally as well as in the Olympic venue for as long as her ankles, and her youth, holds out.

Back then, once stepping down off the podium, a ladies’ figure skater could either chuck the sport for retirement, or another career (like Tenley Albright, who became a surgeon), or shoot for the traveling ice shows.

Or, throw the dice on a big gamble. Carol Heiss, like Sonja Henie before her, skated briefly for Team Hollywood.

It was only one movie, and it was “Snow White and the Three Stooges” (1961). Not exactly a four-star film, but it still appeals to kids and people who have a soft spot for the Three Stooges and Olympic figure skaters. She did her double axel jump in this movie, but according to this post on, her solo skating footage was edited out of the movie. The producers thought there was “too much skating.”

Have a look at this trailer from the movie.

And now, have a look from Carol Heiss’ 1960 free skate program, and see what it was that made her a champion.


John Hayes said...

What a great Olympic lead-in story. The amazing thing is I've actually seen "Snow White & the Three Stooges"--Eberle & I watched it a few years ago.

Gosh, I wish I could make it to your talk on the CCC--I'll be in Mass then but may not be able to nip out for an evening in Chicopee. We'll see; I'm a westerner, so I do have a different idea of distances.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

And he's seen "Snow White & The Three Stooges"! I just love it when they come to class prepared.

Yes, I had to take advantage of this topic because it's not often I can blend my two passions for the Olympics and the Three Stooges.

And the opportunity to mention Tenley Albright in another blog post.

I'd love to see you anywhere, John, and don't worry about making my speech. You just enjoy your vacay, and don't put any added pressure on yourself.

You probably do have a different sense of distances by now than we do in NE, but remember, distance is especially a state of mind in a small state. I can hop over to wherever you happen to be quite easily. We might even be able to rustle up some other bloggers (Raquelle, are your ears burning?) and have a First Annual Old Movie Blogger Convention. (How many people is a convention?)

You may not want to schedule too much after your long trip across the country. Just relax and play it by ear. Playing by ear, I understand, is something you're quite good at.

Caftan Woman said...

That's the sort of thing that gives producers a bad name - to hire a skating champion and then complain about "too much skating".

Not enough Stooges in that trailer, but I now have a hankering to see that movie.

Carol Heiss was so elegant. She looked like the ballerina in a jewellery box.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Hi, Caftan Woman. Carol Heiss was elegant, indeed, a real champion for so many years. It does seem the ultimate irony, doesn't it, to hire a skater and then yank the footage of her skating?

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