QUEEN OF ICE, QUEEN OF SHADOWS: The Unsuspected Life of Sonja Henie by Raymond with Leif Henie Strait

QUEEN OF ICE, QUEEN OF SHADOWS: The Unsuspected Life of Sonja Henie

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Sonja Dearest sounds like a mildly amusing idea for a wee parody of Hollywood expos‚s. Unfortunately, however, Strait (author of several low-level bios) and Leif Henie (Sonja's bitter brother) aren't joking: this largely wearisome biography attempts to paint a nasty portrait of the ice-skating star--but can only come up with some common vices (drinking, swearing) and Sofia's overall toughness and selfishness. (""The little, dimpled darling whom Americans had taken to their hearts could be as hard as her skate blades and cool as the ice on which she skated."") Amid lots of anecdotal details, Sonja is followed from Norway childhood to her precocious figure-skating championship, then through ""nine years of incessant competition and whirlwind travel."" By the early 1930s she was the famed ""Pavlova of the Ice,"" in spectacularly costumed performances, pursuing her ""lust for money and Hollywood stardom."" Despite her ""virtually unintelligible English,"" she bulldozed D.P. Zanuck into making her a star--while carrying on romances with the likes of Tyrone Power (""his sexual appetite was as voracious as her own""). And her temperamental demands kept her in the spotlight for a decade or so-after which she drank heavily, had an ugly divorce, disinherited brother Leif (after a bitter property-dispute), remarried (#3), collected art, and died of leukemia. (""The queen of ice was dead!"") Definitely in the who-cares? category as an expost, chattily thickened with long quotes from Leif and others--but ice-skating buffs (and any remaining Henie fans) might want to do a quick browse-through.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1985
Publisher: Stein & Day