Hamill (right) presents Laura Bush the Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award, June 22, 2007
|Country represented:||United States|
|Date of birth:||July 26, 1956|
|Former coach:||Carlo Fassi|
|Olympic medal record|
|Gold||1976 Innsbruck||Ladies' Singles|
Hamill was born in Chicago to Chalmers and Carol Hamill. Shortly after her birth, her family moved to the Riverside neighborhood of Greenwich, Connecticut, where Hamill subsequently spent the rest of her childhood. She has a brother and a sister. Hamill started ice skating when she was eight years old on her grandparents' backyard pond. Her skates were too big, so her grandmother would put stuffing in the toes to make them fit. She asked her mother if she could have lessons so she could learn to skate backwards. Her mother said yes. When she was 12, one morning Hamill couldn't wake her mother Carol for practice at 4:30 a.m. After awakening, Carol found her daughter walking alone in the cold to the rink, 10 miles away, with her skates slung over her shoulder.
Hamill was U.S. champion from 1974 through 1976. She made her big breakthrough 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 whose marks were mercilessly booed while Hamill was already on the ice. Visibly upset, she left the ice and burst into tears. After the crowd settled down, she returned to the ice and skated a perfect and inspiring program; almost winning the gold medal, but capturing silver 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 but ahead of Errath. In 1976, Hamill switched boots to skate the compulsory figures better (she had been wearing special boots created by Carlo Fassi that did not seem to be helping her).
At the 1976 Olympics, Hamill came in second in the figures and then won the short and long programs, taking the gold medal. Before Dorothy Hamill took to the ice for her freestyle routine at the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, she started crying after seeing a sign in the stands that said, "Which of the West? Dorothy!"
At first, she thought detractors made the sign and took it as a message that she was a witch. In this Cold War era, what the sign-makers were cleverly asking is which Western skater - Hamill or Diane de Leeuw of the Netherlands - was going to defeat East Germany's Christine Errath for the gold medal. Then they answered by saying Dorothy.
Once Hamill realized the sign was held by her friends, who wanted to shake her out of her usual pre-competition jitters, the three-time U.S. champion felt better. A relaxed Hamill, skating to music from Errol Flynn movies, won the gold medal by a unanimous decision of the nine judges.
The crowd showered her with so many flowers that three girls helped her gather them on the ice. Lord Killanin, president of the International Olympic Committee, put the gold medal around her neck. Though she won't identify the alleged assailant, Hamill said that a competing skater and the skater's coach tried to run her down with a car during the 1976 Olympics. She also won the world championships that year and then turned professional.
She is credited with developing a new skating move; a camel spin that turns into a sit spin, which became known as the "Hamill camel." The bobbed hairstyle that she wore during her Olympic performance started a fad. A Dorothy Hamill doll was made in 1977. She quickly became "America's Sweetheart."
Hamill was an Ice Capades headliner from 1977-1984. She was so engaged by an aging Donna Atwood, who had been its star for years and who had eventually acquired financial control of the Ice Capades, to be Atwood's successor as its new star. After the Ice Capades eventually 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 wound up selling it to Pat Robertson's International Family Entertainment, Inc. in 1995.
In 1993, the Associated Press released results of a national sports study by Nye Lavalle's Sports Marketing Group. 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.
Hamill went on to write an autobiographical book, 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. Her second autobiography A Skating Life: My Story, was published in October 2007 by Hyperion Press.
Hamill continues to skate in shows (and is currently a regular principal 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. 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.
Hamill is also a mentor to 2008 World Junior Champion and two-time U.S. Championship silver medalist Rachael Flatt. Flatt, one of the leading contenders for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, 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.
During an interview with Al Michaels of NBC on February 23, 2010, Hamill stated that she had gotten married again.