Irving Brokaw

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Irving Brokaw
Irving Brokaw skater.jpg
Personal information
Full nameIsaac Irving Brokaw
Country representedUnited States
Born(1871-03-29)March 29, 1871
New York City, U.S.
DiedMarch 18, 1939(1939-03-18) (aged 67)
West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.
Skating clubSt. Nicholas Skating Club

Isaac Irving Brokaw (March 29, 1871 – March 18, 1939) was an American figure skater, artist, lawyer, and financier.[1] He represented the United States at the 1908 Summer Olympics in the figure skating competition, becoming the first American to compete in a sport included in the Winter Olympic program.[2] After he won an international prize in Switzerland, he brought the International Style of skating back to the United States.[3] His book, "Art of Skating" was known as the figure skater's bible.[3]

Personal life and family[edit]

He was born in New York City on March 29, 1871 as Isaac Irving Brokaw to Isaac Vail Brokaw and Elvira Tuttle Gould. He was a member of a wealthy New York City family, his father having founded the Brokaw Brothers men's clothing stores. His brothers were lawyer and sportsman George Tuttle Brokaw (whose first wife was Clare Boothe (later Clare Boothe Luce), Howard Crosby Brokaw, and Frederick Brokaw, who drowned at Elberon, New Jersey, while a student at Princeton. Noted cousins included sportsmen William Gould Brokaw and Clifford Vail Brokaw, their sisters Florence Brokaw, of Martin Hall, (Mrs. James E. Martin, later Mrs. Preston Pope Satterwhite) and Lilla Brokaw (Mrs. H. Bramhall Gilbert, later Mrs. Cyril Patrick William Francis Radclyffe Dugmore).

On February 4, 1903, Brokaw married Lucile Nave in St. Joseph. Her family co-owned the Nave & McCord Mercantile Company, a chain of wholesale stores in the Midwest. They had three daughters:

  • Barbara Lucile, who married Leonard Jarvis Cushing.
  • Louise Elvira, aka Mimi, who married Richard Derby Tucker.
  • Lucile, who married, first, James Duane Pell Bishop; second, Rombout van Riemsdyk; and third, Roelof Carel DeBoer. She became an artist.[1] Lucile Brokaw was the model for what is considered the first "action" fashion photograph, taken by Martin Munkacsi and published in Harper's Bazaar in 1933. In it she appears running down a beach.[2]

Irving Brokaw died March 19, 1939, in West Palm Beach, Florida.[1] He's buried at Locust Valley Cemetery in Locust Valley, N.Y.


As a figure skater, Brokaw competed in early national championships in the United States that predated the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and won the events in 1906 and 1908. He competed at the 1908 Summer Olympics in figure skating, where he placed 6th. The 1908 Olympics were the first Games in which figure skating was contested. Brokaw became the first American to compete in skating, and by extension any Winter Olympic sport, at the Olympic Games.

He was later elected as an honorary president of the U.S. Figure Skating Association, and made large contributions to skating techniques.

Brokaw graduated from New York Law School and 1907, but never practiced law as a profession. He was also a well-known artist, and a member of The Salons of America, an art society, and also of the Huguenot Society.

In the 1910, Brokaw wrote the book "The Art of Skating", which was referred to as the "figure skater's bible" by Time Magazine. In 1976, he was posthumously inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame.


  1. ^ a b "Irving Brokaw, 69, Noted Skater, Dies. National Champion in Figure Skating in 1908, Introduced 'International' Style Here. He Was Also An Artist. Had a Painting in Luxembourg Gallery. Member of Old New York Family". New York Times. March 20, 1939. Retrieved 2013-12-19. Irving Brokaw of New York and Palm Beach, a former national figure-skating champion and an artist, died in a hospital here early this morning in his seventieth year. He had been in ill health for some time. ... The son of the late Isaac Vail Brokaw, wealthy and socially prominent New Yorker ...
  2. ^ "Champion Irving Brokaw Tells of Graceful and Skillful Movements on Blades". New York Times. March 19, 1911. Retrieved 2010-10-20. Irving Brokaw, the American champion of 1908, predicts that skating in this ... swinging, curved figures, executed while the body assumes a graceful, ...
  3. ^ a b "100 Years on Ice". Time magazine. February 10, 1941. Retrieved 2010-10-20. Thirty years later, Manhattan Socialite Irving Brokaw, after winning an international prize in Switzerland, brought the International Style of skating back to the U. S. It spread like wildfire after European stars, like the great Charlotte, staged spectacular exhibitions in Manhattan's Hippodrome. ... But nobody — not even the late Irving Brokaw, whose Art of Skating is the figure skater's bible — had ever known the date.

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