Monday, February 14, 2011

February 14: The Sweetheart of the Ice

Figure skater Donna Atwood was born on this day in Kansas in 1923. Her family moved to New Mexico before settling in Los Angeles, California by the time she was nine.

Inspired after seeing Olympic champion Sonja Henie's ice revue, a 13-year-old Atwood strapped on a pair of ice skates for the first time at the Polar Palace in Hollywood. By the time she was barely 16, she had won two medals at the 1941 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Within a year John H. Harris, operating owner of the touring Ice Capades Show, was scouting for new talent when he offered Atwood a contract. She quickly became the show's biggest star (and later married Harris.)

Disney used Atwood as one of two human models for the ice-skating sequence with Bambi and Thumper in the 1942 animated Bambi. She later appeared on a 1956 episode of Mickey Mouse Club, in which she skated with the seven dwarfs.

Described as a "graceful flash of light on the skating rink," Atwood left professional figure-skating behind at age 31 to start a family.

Click HERE for more February 14 Disney history.

2 comments:

A Snow White Sanctum said...

I'll have to see if I can find that 1956 episode of the Mickey Mouse Club where she skated with the seven dwarfs.

Tony said...

Robert, that would be great if you found a bit more about it. From the research I did, Atwood appeared in a 2-part Mickey Mouse Club episode (first in Dec 1956 and then sometime in early 1957). The only photo I have seen of the episode is of Atwood and 7 very primitive looking dwarfs on skates. There must have been some sort of tie-in with Disney and the Ice Capades.