"Til Lykke" Sonja`s greetings, hands and a skateprint in front of the Chinese Theatre 1937 - my friend Karin Mustvedt-Pluss 2013
Sonja and Michael O`Shea in It`s a Pleasure 1945 - photographed by Ray Rennahan -who won an Oscar for Gone With The Wind
In her Hollywood years 1936-1948 - she starred in 11 films. In the years 1936-1939 she was among the top 10 of the Hollywood stars and top salaried.... Indeed - within 10 years she was the wealthiest woman in America.
Sonja Henie was taught to be competetive from an early age----- She was taken out of School after only 4 years - and thus - this was her core all through her life-- As Such - her contract and starbilling demands With 20th Century-Fox`s Darryl F Zanuck - are legendary. Result? A tough colloboration..... It has been suggested that the reason Zanuck never gave her Technicolor was because of her high salaries.....
When she seemed to be a has been(Hollywood is ruthless) by 1941, Production chief Darryl F Zanuck sold her ice rink to Republic.
But when he saw the rushes of her swansong, Sun Valley Serenade, he realised he had a blockbuster and regrettably had to renew her contract for two more films(Iceland 1942 & Wintertime 1943....)
Today Sun Valley Serenade is remembered as one of the greatest Musicals ever to come out of Hollywood.
One should also never forget some of her other films as well - Thin Ice 1937, Happy Landing - My Lucky Star (both)1938 and Second Fiddle 1939. They show Sonja at her best and With 20th Century-Fox giving her the best of co-stars and Production values.
After the Fox years - she starred in International`s IT`s a Pleasure in Technicolor -showcasing some of her best numbers, but
regrettebly a weak performance as an actress.... By 1948 - International had merged With Universal; and she made excellent acting With Olga San Juan in the comedy The Countess of Monte Christo. It was not on her usual Budget and she never made another Hollywood film, but a semidocumentary in UK - Hello London in 1958. The numbers were Nice and she still had her charisma and timing - but the rest - let there be silence.
Just to make my point - here are 11 films produced and released the years Sonja`s Hollywood films came out - and many of her cast, craftsmen, crew and friends are all featured in them:
1. Friend Clark Gable - his widow became her closest friend - SAN FRANCISCO 1936
2. SNOW-WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS 1937 - Disney showcased Sonja in the 1939 cartoon With Donald Duck - The Autograph Hound
3. THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD 1938 - includes supporting cast from Thin Ice 1937 - Alan Hale & Melville Cooper
4. Clark Gable - GONE WITH THE WIND 1939 - 1939 and photographed by Ray Rennahan(he did Sonja`s only Technicolor film - It`s a Pleasure 1945)
5. THE WIZARD OF OZ 1939 - Judy Garland - Buddy Ebsen(the original Tin Man - replaced by Jack Haley because of his allergy to Heavy make-up and costume - starred With Sonja in My Lucky Star 1938 - he still sings "We`re Off To See The Wizard on the soundtrack)
6. THAT HAMILTON WOMAN 1941 screen play by Walter Reisch who also wrote the story of The Countess of Monte Christo 1948
7. SUN VALLEY SERENADE 1941- Sonja`s top film and still screened all over the world!
8. CASABLANCA 1942 - Ingrid Bergman as Norwegian Ilsa Lund - S.Z. Zakall supports in this and Sonja`s 1943 film - Wintertime.
9. PHANTOM OF THE OPERA 1943 - Fritz Feld - supporting her in Everything Happens at Night 1939
10. THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY 1945 - my own favorite from the era
11. EASTER PARADE 1948 - Judy Garland - Irving Berlin who wrote the score for her film Second Fiddle 1939
from right; Alan Hale, Melville Cooper(both in The Adventures of Robin Hood) With Sonja in Thin Ice 1937
Walter Reisch - who co-wrote That Hamilton Woman and was behind the story of The Countess of Monte Christo
Buddy Ebsen as The Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz - before replaced through sickness.... Richard Greene, Sonja & Buddy Ebsen(in the car window) - My Lucy Star
Ray Rennahan and Rhonda Fleming - he photographed It`s a Pleasure and co-photographed Gone With The Wind
Sonja With her co-star in two films - Thin Ice & Second Fiddle - Tyrone Power - The Man That Got Away
Sonja 1968 With Sonja Haraldsen, King Olav V and Princess Astrid.... only a year later he attended Sonja`s funeral