Facts about Eleanor Holm
Eleanor Holm Biography
Swimmer Eleanor Holm was an Olympic gold medalist who famously got kicked off the 1936 American team for drinking champagne and ignoring her curfew.
A “Brooklyn girl,” Holm she was chosen for the 1928 Olympics (Amsterdam) when she was 14 years old; she came in fifth in the 100-meter backstroke. In 1932 she returned to the Olympics (Los Angeles) and won the gold medal in that event.
The odds-on favorite for the Berlin 1936 Olympics, Holm had become a celebrity by way of Hollywood movies, society magazines and a career as a singer in her first husband’s band.
Headed for Europe with the 1936 American team, Holm celebrated with some sports writers past curfew and got herself kicked off the team, causing a sensation.
It made her more famous than swimming had, and she stayed in Berlin, meeting Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring and filing ghost written reports for Hearst’s International News Service.
When Holm returned to the U.S., her celebrity had blossomed. She gave up her amateur status to swim in Hollywood movies (1938’s Tarzan’s Revenge) and in the “Aquacade” at the New York World’s Fair (1939 and ’40).
The Aquacade was produced by Billy Rose, who was married to stage star Fannie Brice at the time. Holm and Rose had an affair and then he became her second husband (1939-54).
Holm retired to Florida and married Tommy Whalen in 1974.
Something in Common with Eleanor Holm
- Olympians born in New York (2)
- Athletes born in New York (20)
- Athletes born in the United States (179)
- Sagittarius Athletes (19)
4 Good Links
- Her bio from the Olympics organization
- Her story in a nutshell
- 1984 New York Times profile and interview
- Brief video of her in backstroke action