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Dorothy Hamill

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Title: Dorothy Hamill  
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Subject: U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Peggy Fleming, Kristi Yamaguchi, 1976 World Figure Skating Championships, Eastern Sectional Figure Skating Championships
Collection: 1956 Births, American Female Single Skaters, Breast Cancer Survivors, Dancing with the Stars (U.S. Tv Series) Participants, Daytime Emmy Award Winners, Figure Skaters at the 1976 Winter Olympics, Living People, Olympic Figure Skaters of the United States, Olympic Gold Medalists for the United States, Olympic Medalists in Figure Skating, Participants in American Reality Television Series, Sportspeople from Chicago, Illinois, Sportspeople from Greenwich, Connecticut, World Figure Skating Championships Medalists, World Figure Skating Hall of Fame Inductees
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Dorothy Hamill

Dorothy Hamill
Hamill (right) presents Laura Bush the Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award, June 22, 2007.
Personal information
Country represented  United States
Born Dorothy Stuart Hamill
(1956-07-26) July 26, 1956
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Height 5 ft 5 in (165 cm)
Former coach Otto Gold, Gustave Lussi, Sonya Dunfield, Carlo Fassi, Peter Burrows
Retired 1976
Olympic medal record
Women's figure skating
Competitor for  United States
1976 Innsbruck Singles

Dorothy Stuart Hamill (born July 26, 1956) is a retired American figure skater. She is the 1976 Olympic champion in ladies' singles and the 1976 World champion.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Competition highlights 4
  • Records and achievements 5
    • Amateur 5.1
    • Professional 5.2
    • Awards 5.3
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Hamill was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Chalmers and Carol Hamill. Her father was a mechanical engineer.[1] Shortly after her birth, her family moved to the Riverside neighborhood of Greenwich, Connecticut, where Hamill spent the rest of her childhood. She has two older siblings, a brother, Sandy, and a sister, Marcia.[1]

Hamill first started skating in early 1965 at the age of 8, taking once-a-week group lessons. She became more serious about the sport the next season, taking regular private lessons and passing her preliminary and first figure test before the seasonal rink closed in March. She would wake early in the morning to go to the rink for practice at 4:30 am.[1] Hamill was first coached by Otto Gold and Gustave Lussi. Ice time was limited in her area, so she eventually began training at Sky Rink in New York City, staying overnight in the city with friends when possible. In the summers, Hamill trained in Lake Placid, New York and later in Toronto with her coach at the time, Sonya Dunfield.[2] During her career, her father would spend up to $20,000 a year on her skating expenses, including skating lessons, travel, living expenses, and costumes.[1]

Until the spring of 1970, Hamill attended public schools in Riverside, but at that point she switched to a small school with flexible tutoring to accommodate her skating schedule. She attended and graduated from Colorado Academy high school.[2]


Hamill's first national success came in 1969, when she won the novice ladies' title at the U.S. Championships at the age of 12. Later that spring, Hamill was invited to perform in Madison Square Garden with the exhibition tour (in later years known as Champions on Ice) that followed the 1969 World Figure Skating Championships. She placed second at the junior level at the 1970 Championships, and made her senior debut in 1971.[2] The U.S. Figure Skating Association arranged for her to be coached by Carlo Fassi when she began to compete internationally. In the summer of 1971, due to his student's poor eyesight, Fassi ordered her to buy glasses with the largest frames possible to allow her to see out of the corners while executing compulsory figures.[1]

Hamill was U.S. champion from 1974 to 1976. At the 1974 World Championships in Munich, Germany, she was in 3rd place after the compulsory figures and the short program. She was set to skate directly after the German skater Gerti Schanderl, whose marks were booed while Hamill was already on the ice. Visibly upset, Hamill left the ice and burst into tears. After the crowd settled down, she returned to the ice and won the silver medal behind Christine Errath of East Germany.

Hamill won silver again at the World Championships in 1975 at Colorado Springs, Colorado behind Dianne de Leeuw of the Netherlands and ahead of Errath. In 1976, Hamill switched boots to skate the compulsory figures better (she had been wearing special boots created by Carlo Fassi).

Hamill was disappointed by her performance at the 1976 U.S. Championships, admitting that she was outskated by Linda Fratianne because she had not trained properly. Immediately after the national championships, her coach Carlo Fassi left the U.S. to accompany his other star pupil, John Curry, to the European Championships, leaving Hamill coachless with the Olympics only a few weeks away. She began training with Peter Burrows instead. She was pleased with their work together and wanted to bring him to the Olympics as her coach of record.[1] However, the USFSA refused her request and she was reunited with Fassi for a brief period of training in Germany before the Olympics.[1][3]

At the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, Hamill came in second in the figures and then won the short and long programs, taking the gold medal. Before her free program, supporters held a sign saying, "Which of the West? Dorothy!"[1] The sign was asking which skater would defeat East Germany's Christine Errath for the gold medal.[1] Hamill initially misunderstood their intention and was hurt by the witch reference, but then realized it was a sign of support and it helped alleviate her pre-competition nerves.[1] The nine judges gave her unanimous first-place votes.[1]

Hamill said that a competing skater and the skater's coach nearly hit her with a car during the 1976 Olympics.[4] She does not believe the near-accident was intentional and has not publicly identified them.[4] She was the last single skater to win the Olympics without a triple jump.[1] Hamill also won the 1976 World Championships and then turned professional.

Hamill is credited with developing a new skating move based on her coach's idea—a camel spin that turns into a sit spin, which became known as the "Hamill camel."[5] The bobbed hairstyle that she wore during her Olympic performance was created by stylist Yusuke Suga [1] and started a fad.[6] Her glasses with oversized frames also started a trend in the 1970s.[1] A Dorothy Hamill doll was made in 1977. The media dubbed her "America's sweetheart."[7]

Hamill was an Ice Capades headliner from 1977–1984. She was asked to join Ice Capades by Donna Atwood, who had been its star for years and who had eventually acquired financial control of the Ice Capades. Hamill was asked to be Atwood's successor as its new star.[8] After the Ice Capades folded due to competition and changing national tastes in entertainment (notably favoring the professional sports of football and basketball), Hamill bought the financially strapped company's assets in 1993 in an effort to revive earlier successes, but eventually sold it to Pat Robertson's International Family Entertainment, Inc. in 1995.

In 1993, the Associated Press released results of a national sports study, showing that Hamill was statistically tied for first place with fellow Olympian, Mary Lou Retton as the most popular athlete in America ranking far ahead of other major sports stars such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Troy Aikman, Dan Marino, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana, Nolan Ryan and 800 other athletes.[9]

In February 2013, it was revealed that Hamill would take part in the sixteenth season of Dancing with the Stars, partnering with Tristan MacManus. After only two dances, on March 26, 2013 she was forced to withdraw from the competition upon advice from her spine surgeon due to a severe strain on her lower back which was caused during practice.[10][11]

Personal life

Hamill wrote an autobiography titled On and Off the Ice. She was married and divorced twice: to singer/actor Dean Paul Martin (1982–1984), and then to Kenneth Forsythe (1987–1995), with whom she had a daughter named Alexandra. Hamill married third husband, John MacColl, in 2009.[12] Her second autobiography A Skating Life: My Story, was published in October 2007 by Hyperion Press. $366,000 in jewelry was stolen from Hamill's hotel room in San Francisco in December 1982, but her subsequent case for reimbursement was unsuccessful.[1]

Hamill has continued to skate in shows, including a regular principal role with Broadway on Ice. She was a special guest in the Brian Boitano-Barry Manilow skating extravaganza at AT&T Park in San Francisco on December 5, 2007.

On January 4, 2008, Hamill announced that she was being treated for breast cancer.[13] Following her battle with cancer, Hamill began encouraging people to eat a plant-based diet to reduce their risks of contracting cancer and other diseases.[14] Hamill was friends with pop singer and drummer Karen Carpenter and attended her funeral on February 8, 1983.

Hamill is a mentor to 2008 World Junior Champion and two-time U.S. Championship silver medalist Rachael Flatt.[7] Flatt, who competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics, is a member of the Broadmoor Skating Club and trains at the World Arena and Ice Hall in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the same place where Hamill trained before winning her Olympic gold.

Competition highlights

Event 1968–69 1969–70 1970–71 1971–72 1972–73 1973–74 1974–75 1975–76
Winter Olympics 1st
World Championships 7th 4th 2nd 2nd 1st
U.S. Championships 1st N. 2nd J. 5th 4th 2nd 1st 1st 1st
Nebelhorn Trophy 1st
St. Gervais 1st
Richmond Trophy 1st

Records and achievements


  • Olympic Champion (1976)
  • World Champion (1976)
  • Three-time United States National Champion (1974–1976)
  • Invented the Hamill camel, a camel spin followed by a sit spin




  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Hilton, Lisette (November 19, 2003). "Relaxed Hamill gives gold medal performance". ESPN Classics. Archived from the original on February 26, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "Competitor: Dorothy Hamill", Skating magazine, Jan 1971
  3. ^ Dorothy Hamill, A Skating Life, ISBN 978-1-4013-0328-0
  4. ^ a b "Was Dorothy Hamill Almost Attacked At The 1976 Olympics?". Access Hollywood. February 23, 2010. Archived from the original on August 19, 2010. 
  5. ^ Hatmaker, Julia (December 28, 2012). "Dorothy Hamill talks 'Stars on Ice,' changes in figure skating".  
  6. ^ "How to cut the Dorothy Hamill wedge haircut". Retrieved 2011-08-05. 
  7. ^ a b Thomson, Candus (September 22, 2009). "Dorothy Hamill still golden". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on August 13, 2010. 
  8. ^ "The 7 Worst Celebrity Investments". Kabbage. Retrieved 2013-04-28. 
  9. ^ Wilstein, Steve (May 17, 1993). "Retton, Hamill Most Popular Athletes In United States: Poll".  
  10. ^ Ravitz, Justin (March 27, 2013). "Dancing with the Stars: Dorothy Hamill Quits Due to Spinal Injury". US Magazine. 
  11. ^ Taylor, Amanda (March 27, 2013). DWTS' eliminated contestant: Dorothy Hamill leaves show for health reasons, still smiling"'". 
  12. ^ "Real Life Partners of 'Dancing With the Stars' Contestants". 2013-02-27. Retrieved 2013-03-05. 
  13. ^ "Olympic Skater Dorothy Hamill Has Breast Cancer". 2008-01-04. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  14. ^ "Dorothy Hamill's and Patrick Swayze's Cancer Battles Raise Prevention Awareness". October 2009. Retrieved 2011-08-05. 

External links

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