On 02 January 2018 at 16:01 | updated on 06 March 2018 at 08:21

The skating vanities and their star Gloria Nord

The skating vanities and their star Gloria Nord

The skating vanities influenced the history since their creation in 1942. Among the skaters, there were only a few celebrities with a similar reputation as Gloria Nord. Nord was the muse of Harold Steinman's group...


Biography of Gloria North (Gloria Nordskog)

Gloria NordGloria Nordskog was born on August 2, 1922 and she died on December 30, 2009. She was an American dancer, both in figure skating on ice and on roller skates. She was nicknamed "Sonja Henie on Wheels" and "Sonja Henie of the Roller Rinks". Millions of fans looked up to her in the years 1940-1950 due to her theatricality.

The childhood of Gloria Nord

Gloria Nord has Norwegian, French and English roots. She grew up in Santa Monica, Hollywood and California. She was the youngest of Andrae Nordskog's five children. He was a singer and pioneer in musical recording business. He organized the first Hollywood Bowl concerts.

As a child, she danced classical dance and ballet. She also loved roller skating. One of her sisters painted artificial flowers for a movie, another sang in a nightclub in California and another founded an orchestra made up of 100% female musicians. A thoroughly artistic family!

At just 15, she was a consummate artist. She wanted to play in a comedy and became an actress. She went to the artist school in Hollywood by Mrs. Long.

From Hollywood, to the Roller Bowl and finally to the Skating Vanities

Sid Gauman changed the effort of Gloria to sing and act on the Broadway. He was a well-known magnate in the cinema business, who opened the Hollywood Roller Bowl on Sunset Boulevard 1938 in southern California.

Her brother Bob built a roller skate that she tried in the Bowl. Grauman hired her for his show. During the three weeks of preparation, Gloria demonstrated the roller skates in a show. She was supported by the magazine Skating Review and started a tour in the US.
The pamphlet Pittsburg Post mentioned her appearance in the Etna Rena Rollertorium on September 17, 1941. She also appeared in the films "It Happened on Rollers" and "Skate Scrapes".

Gloria Nord à l'affiche en 1948

Harold Steinmann previously saw how she competed as a girl in a figure skating show on the Pacific Coast. He kept her in his mind and turned back to her at the birth of the "Skating Vanities 1942". The original name was "Roller Follies", but Gloria persuaded Steinman to change the name to avoid confusion with the Roller Derby Show.

"Derby is terrible!" - Gloria Nord in the Saturday Evening Post 1988

Steinman took out a $ 10,000 loan to found the "Skating Vanities", which included Gloria Nord and 100 other roller skaters. He was worried that the roller skates could be too loud and endanger the show. He therefore used a wooden floor and wheels of pressed wood.
Gloria Nord remained the lead actress between 1942 and 1950. In the first two tours over 1 million people visited the show in 20 cities.

Gloria Nord in the Milwaukee Journal on April 8, 1942

"There are way more figure skaters on wheels, than figure skaters on ice. It's way more difficult to form a unit on wheels than on blades. It's much harder to dance on wheels and to show different figures. You cannot easily turn pirouettes on the middle of the blade. On wheels, it requires a much higher standard of balance. I think our show can offer more than a show on the ice. With roller skates you can show more. For example, that our entire crew can do tap dance on roller skates. "

Douglas Breniser et Gloria Nord

In 1943, sports writer Harry Grayson described Gloria North's appearance as follows:

"This little woman is very important to all 15 million roller skaters. There are 4000 roller skating arenas in the country and 200 ice rinks. On 20 figure skaters on wheels you can count one figure skater on ice. The roller skates have conquered the best people of all ages. "
In 1944, Gloria participated in a scene at the "Pin Up Girl" with Betty Grable. In the Milkauwee Journal, on July 27, 1943, she is compared to the well-known figure skater Sonja Henie.
Gloria North became the famous pin-up girl of American soldiers during World War II.

The program of skating vanities presented Nord as follows:

"The charming Gloria Nord is a 21-year-old ballerina of the" Skating Vanities". She is not only known for her skating skills, but she is also one of America's most beautiful girls. She was hailed for her solo appearance in the movie Pin-Up Girl. Her photographs were in great demand with American military soldiers all around the world. "

The worldwide recognition of skating vanities

The skating vanities toured the US, Canada, various capitals of Europe and Australia. The show was held at popular sites such as the Madison Square Garden in New York or Los Angeles' Pan Pacific Auditorium.
The skating vanities also appeared in 1950 at the Palais des Sports in Paris. The stars of the show were Gloria Nord and Douglas Breniser.

Joe Cody, aka "Bobby May" - the juggler on roller skates

Gloria Nord sur glace

 Among the members of the crew you have to quote Bobby May. As a professional juggler he became part of the group in 1944. He spent weeks learning how to skate on roller skates. He trained up to 9 hours a day to juggle on roller skates. May left the group to continue his career on the ice in 1947. From 1949 he worked for three years at Holiday On Ice. Between 1956-1957 he was back on stage in North and South America with the queen on the ice: Sonja Henie.

From roller skating to ice skating

In 1950, Gloria Nord turned to figure skating and participated in a production at Wembley Arena in London. The popularity of the Roller Derby at this time helped her in the decision. Sir Arthur Elvin, the sports initiator, supported her on her way. In 1953, she conquered the British heart and performed even in front of Queen Elizabeth II with the show "Ecstasy on Ice" and "Robinson Crusoe on Ice" on.

"I had a wonderful life, but I could barely walk after the shows." - Gloria Nord

Until 1960 she appeared regularly on the stage. The audience remembered her audacious and courageous jumps. She rarely crashed. Her last show took place in Los Angeles. In her pension, she was operated twice on the hip. After two weddings and two divorces, she remained childless. She had a lot in common with her nephews and nieces: Carla Wales, Dorice Mabus, Jerry Nordskog, and Brian Whiteside.

She spent her last years in Mission Viejo, California, and died on December 30, at the age of 87.

"She had  such a charisma that the spectator was always aware of what a star she was." - Roy Blakey, former dancer of Holiday On Ice

Video of a show of the skating vanities in the 40s

Liens utiles

History of roller skating

Released  on 02 January 2018 - Read 3891 times

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Passionné de roulettes devant l'éternel, le jour j'écume le bitume. Si je me crashe, si je tombe, ma peau s'arrache mais pas mon coeur de roller !

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