Cathy Rigby

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Cathy Rigby
Rigby in 1974
Personal information
Birth nameCathleen Roxanne Rigby
Born (1952-12-12) December 12, 1952 (age 70)
Long Beach, California, U.S.[1]
Height149 cm (4 ft 11 in)
Spouse(s)Tommy Mason (1972-81)
Tom McCoy
SportArtistic gymnastics
Medal record
Representing  United States
World Championships
Silver medal – second place 1970 Ljubljana Balance beam

Cathleen Roxanne Rigby (later Mason, later McCoy; born December 12, 1952), known as Cathy Rigby, is an actress, speaker, and former artistic gymnast. Her performance in the 1968 Summer Olympics helped to popularize the sport of gymnastics in the United States.

After her retirement from gymnastics, Rigby became a stage and television actress. She is most noted for the role of Peter Pan, which she played for more than 30 years. She also became a public speaker on the subject of eating disorder, which she struggled with and overcame.[1][2]

Rigby is featured in an image included on the Voyager Golden Record.[3]

Gymnastics career[edit]

Rigby was the highest-scoring American gymnast at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, making her a favorite with American television audiences and helping to popularize gymnastics in America. She was the U.S. national champion in 1970 and 1972, and became the first American woman to win a medal at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships: the silver medal on the balance beam at the 1970 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.[1]

Rigby competed in the 1972 Summer Olympics but was hampered by injury. Prior to the Games, she had been working on a "front aerial walkover"—a balance-beam skill that was quite risky for the time—but, because she was injured, she did not attempt this move during the competition, and she did not win a medal. She retired from gymnastics after the 1972 Olympics.[1]

Acting career[edit]

In 1974, the producers of a theater-in-the-round version of Peter Pan offered Rigby the title role. Rigby commented that she was "scared to death" during rehearsals; only 20 and just a year into "retirement," she had no idea what she would be doing with the rest of her life when the role came along. To her surprise, she discovered that she enjoyed playing Peter Pan.[4]

In the mid-1970s, Rigby shattered an old taboo by appearing in a series of TV commercials for Stayfree maxi pads created by VMLY&R copywriter Peter Cornish, thereby becoming the first celebrity to endorse a feminine hygiene product. She then worked for 18 years as a commentator for ABC Sports and appeared in made-for-television movies. In 1976, she guest-starred as a Russian gymnast on the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man.

In 1981, she starred as Dorothy in a production of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Other theatrical appearances included Annie Get Your Gun and Meet Me in St. Louis.[1]

In 1990, Rigby again appeared as Peter Pan on Broadway theatre and later took the production on tour. She received excellent reviews for her performance and was nominated for a Tony Award.[5] She played the role again in 1998–1999. In 2002–2003, she played the lead in the touring production of the musical Seussical, and in 2004–2005, she again toured as Peter Pan, billing it as her farewell.[6] Yet she returned to the role in 2008 at the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, and in 2009 at the Mansion Theater in Branson, Missouri.[7][8]

In August 2011, Rigby started another Peter Pan tour at the age of 60, continuing through 2013.[9] In 2012, she appeared in American Girl's An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for The Stars, as McKenna's gymnastics coach.[10] Rigby confirmed that she was leaving the role of Peter Pan for good when her tour concluded on April 28, 2013.[11] She said, "No, we don't say goodbye, because saying goodbye means forgetting, and I'm not forgetting, I'm just going to find another adventure."

In late August 2015, Rigby reprised her role as Peter Pan in a limited 15-day run at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver.[12][13]

Personal life[edit]

After retiring from gymnastics, Rigby married professional football player Tommy Mason in 1972, with whom she had two sons. She and Mason divorced in 1981. While acting in The Wizard of Oz, she met her second husband, Tom McCoy, whom she credited with helping her fight bulimia nervosa.[1][14] She and McCoy had two daughters, Theresa and Kaitlin.

During the 1980s, she began speaking publicly about her experiences with eating disorders. She suffered from bulimia for 12 years and wrote in an article for People in 1984: "I wanted to be perfect in my attitude and in my weight. Inside I was going crazy. I probably consumed 10,000 calories a day or more in fast foods. I can tell you where every McDonald's and Jack in the Box was along the way (to my voice lessons)—and every bathroom where I could get rid of the food."[15] According to a People interview in 1991, "twice she was hospitalized and nearly died from electrolyte imbalance."[16]

Awards and honors[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Cathy Rigby". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on April 18, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Cathy Rigby". International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Retrieved May 12, 2007.
  3. ^ Ready, Tinker (2012). "Voyager time capsule: A bottle in the cosmic ocean". bostonblog. Macmillan. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  4. ^ "Theater", USA today, October 2, 2004
  5. ^ Jones, Kenneth (August 24, 2011). "Cathy Rigby Dusts Off Her Shadow for Peter Pan Tour, Beginning Aug. 24". Playbill. Archived from the original on September 15, 2011. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
  6. ^ "Cathy Rigby in her farewell performance as Peter Pan". Out & About Newspaper. May 1, 2005. Archived from the original on March 27, 2012. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
  7. ^ Jones, Kenneth (June 21, 2008). "Cathy Rigby Soars Again in Peter Pan, Starting June 21 at Pittsburgh CLO". Playbill.
  8. ^ "Branson producers think Broadway's Peter Peter Pan is good fit in Branson w/ Peter Pan video & Cathy Rigby interview audio". The Joplin Globe. November 19, 2009.
  9. ^ Jones, Kenneth (November 23, 2010), "Wired Again! Cathy Rigby Will Tour as Peter Pan in 2011–12", Play bill, archived from the original on August 8, 2014, retrieved April 24, 2013
  10. ^ "Young gymnast conquers difficulties in 'McKenna Shoots for the Stars'". The Detroit News. Retrieved August 3, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Nargi, Jan (April 23, 2013), "BWW Interviews", Cathy Rigby Takes Final Flight as 'Peter Pan', Boston: Broadway world, retrieved April 24, 2013
  12. ^ "Peter Pan at the PNE keeps star Cathy Rigby eternally young: The Tony Award-nominee and former Olympic gymnast has come out of retirement to perform". CBC. August 21, 2015.
  13. ^ Smith, Janet (August 20, 2015). "Cathy Rigby still flying high as Peter Pan". The Georgia Straight.
  14. ^ Pendergast, Tom and Pendergast, Sara (2000). St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Detroit: St. James Press. ISBN 1-55862-405-8.
  15. ^ Rigby McCoy, Cathy (August 13, 1984). "A Onetime Olympic Gymnast Overcomes the Bulimia That Threatened Her Life". People Magazine.
  16. ^ Goodman, Mark. Cathy Rigby, Flying High" People Magazine, May 6, 1991
  17. ^ Wulf, Steve (March 23, 2015). "Supersisters: Original Roster". Retrieved June 4, 2015.

External links[edit]