Monday, February 14, 2011
February 14: The Sweetheart of the Ice
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.