Glamorous Trailblazer: Gloria Nord

Wrapping up Women's History Month with an NMRS Profile on Gloria Nord

We have chosen to focus on roller skating and ice skating star Gloria Nord, who helped popularize roller skating shows in the 1940s (Pickard 91). Women’s History Month is a perfect time to call attention to such a captivating pillar of roller skating history. Nord is best known as the leading lady of the “Skating Vanities”. However, she originally danced and ice skated. Nord grew up in Hollywood, California and had her sights set on stardom from a young age. She was only nine years old when she started learning to dance and ice skate. By age 11, she was a member of the vaudeville and nightclub scene. Her dancing skills were even featured in several Warner Brothers movie shorts. (LA Times)


Gloria was first recognized for her roller skating at a roller rink in Hollywood. The starlette bumped into none other than Mickey Rooney, famed producer and actor, who then introduced her to his fellow producer Harold Steinman. Steinman asked Gloria to join his travelling skating show, the “Roller Follies”. Nord agreed but told Steinman that the group’s name should be changed to its better known title “The Skating Vanities” (Pickard 91-92). Nord was finally beginning to reach the stardom that she had spent her whole life working for. Although Nord started off lacking some technical skill, she made up for it with her dazzling personality and glamorous showmanship. Reporters went on to compare her to one of her childhood heroes as the “Sonja Henie of roller skating” (Skate Guard).




Nord even became popular amongst American GIs in World War II after starring in the 1944 movie “Pin Up Girl”. She also moved onto ice-skating shows in the 1950s, mostly in Great Britain. She proved to be just as show-stopping on the ice and got the chance to perform in front of Queen Elizabeth II. (LA Times)


Gloria Nord was a dynamic starlet from the age of nine until she passed on December 30, 2009. Gloria never let age hinder her glamour as "She continued to dance socially and wear high heels" well into her 80s according to her obituary in the Washington Post. The National Museum of Roller Skating is delighted to highlight Gloria Nord in honor of National Women’s History Month. One can find her skates, costumes, and archival pictures at the museum year round. “Skating Vanities” programs featuring Nord can also be found in the gift shop.


Sources:

Guard, Skate. “Rollers And Ice: The Gloria Nord Story.” Skate Guard, 8 Apr. 2021, http://skateguard1.blogspot.com/2020/09/ravishing-on-rollers-gloria-nord-story.html.

Pickard, George. Titans & Heroes of American Roller Skating. National Museum of Roller Skating, 2010, pp. 91–92.

Woo, Elaine. “Gloria Nord Dies at 87; Skating Star of the 1940s and ’50s - Los Angeles Times.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 7 Jan. 2010, https://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-gloria-nord7-2010jan07-story.html.

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