Skater Sonja Henie – Go For The Gold

Vintage illustration Sonja Henie

Olympic Gold Medal winner Sonja Henie, changed the sport of figure skating forever, and parlayed her talents and fame into a successful movie career.
At her peak Sonja Henie was # 3 at the box office behind Clark Gable and Shirley Temple.

For the millions of millennial’s who are marveling at the grace and artistry of the figure skaters performing at the Olympic Games in Sochi, the name Sonja Henie probably draws a blank look.

Henie…who?

As speculation begins as to who will get the big payday endorsement deal from their Olympic victory, a nod of recognition must go to world-class figure skater and celebrity branding pioneer Sonja Henie.

Affectionately know as “The Ice Queen of Norway” she was also known as “Little Miss Moneybags.”

Savvy Sonja

With great business savvy, Sonja took the nascent art of celebrity branding to unheard of heights.

An unrivaled athlete of the 1930’s and ‘40s, Norwegian born Sonja Henie was the worlds first great figure skater and media superstar. Not only did she win 3 consecutive Olympic Gold medals starting in 1928 at age 15 she also won 10 back to back world championships, a record that still stands today.

No other figure skater had captivated  the public like the beautiful  teenage Sonja.

With an instinct for self promotion that rivaled her skating skills, she turned those 3 Olympic Gold medals into a pot of gold.

First off she took those gold medals and cashed them in for a lucrative Hollywood career inking  a deal with Twentieth Century Fox. Gliding effortlessly, her crossover to film was as seamless as the way she handled curves on the ice.

Sonia Henie

Sonja Henie’s popularity as a screen actress attracted new fans to figure skating and propelled skating shows as popular entertainment. Her show “The Hollywood Ice Revue” was an annual tour, and Sonja skated in the revue until 1952

While making blockbuster films she also went on tour  appearing in ice shows called “Hollywood Ice Revue.”  Crisscrossing the country the shows were wildly successful, not only increasing the  popularity of her movies but making figure skating popular too.

Vintage Sonja Henie Coloring Books covers illustration

Vintage Sonja Henie Coloring Books (L) “Queen of the Ice” 1939 (R) “Sonja Henie Paint Her Pictures Coloring Book” 1940

In this age of unabashed celebrity branding, the “Ice Queen of Norway” would put Kim Kardashian to shame.

Sonja Henie’s lucrative endorsements contracts and multiple deals to market skates, clothing, jewelry, dolls, toys and other merchandise all branded with her name, made her one of the wealthiest women in the world at the time.

Sonja Henie Says:

Vintage RC Cola Ad 1944 Sonja Henie

Vintage RC Cola Ad 1944 Sonja Henie

Her appearance in a 1944 ad for Royal Crown  Cola only confirmed how big a star Sonja Henie was.

In the 1940’s a veritable who’s who in Hollywood from Betty Grable to Joan Crawford appeared in the popular cola advertisements.

It was a match made in promotion heaven. RC Cola like Sonja Henie herself, understood the power of celebrity endorsements

Promoting her latest film “It’s a Pleasure,” it was apparently a pleasure to drink RC Cola. “Pert and Pretty Sonja Henie always asks for RC when she calls for a drink at the rink.”

Because the ad appeared during WWII,  red, white and true blue Sonja invited the reader to join her in patriotically buying an extra War Bond that month.

Apparently her controversial “Heil Hitler” salute to the Führer that raised eyebrows at the 1936 Olympics in Germany seems to have been long forgotten.

Go Figure

No surprise, we learn that  RC was her taste-test winner! “Sunny Sonja took the famous taste test recently. She tried the leading colas in a blind taste test- picked Royal Crown Cola as best tasting”

Best endorsement deal  too!

Copyright (©) 2014 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved

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One comment

  1. Then there was the green heart of ice that was a Sonja Henie connection wit Nebraska….

    Like

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