John Curry

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John Curry
John Curry 1976.jpg
Curry at the 1976 Olympics
Personal information
Full nameJohn Anthony Curry
Country representedUnited Kingdom
Born(1949-09-09)9 September 1949
Birmingham, Warwickshire, England[1]
Died15 April 1994(1994-04-15) (aged 44)
Binton, Warwickshire, England
Height180 cm (5 ft 11 in)[1]
Former coachCarlo Fassi, Gustav Lussi,
Arnold Gerschwiler
Skating clubQueens Ice Dance Club, London[1]

John Anthony Curry, OBE (9 September 1949 – 15 April 1994)[2] was a British figure skater. He was the 1976 Olympic and World Champion. He was noted for combining ballet and modern dance influences into his skating.

Early life[edit]

Curry was born on 9 September 1949 in Birmingham, England. He had two older brothers.[2] He was educated at Solihull School, an independent school in the West Midlands, and then at St Andrews, an independent boarding school in Somerset.[citation needed] As a child, Curry wanted to become a dancer, but his parents disapproved of dance as an activity for boys;[2] instead, he began to take figure skating lessons under the guidance of Ken Vickers at the Summerhill Road rink in Birmingham.[1]

Skating career[edit]

After his father died of tuberculosis, when John was 16,[2] he moved to London to study with Arnold Gerschwiler, who coached him to his first British title in 1971. In 1972, Curry found an American sponsor who enabled him to study in the United States with Gus Lussi and Carlo Fassi.[1]

Competitive career[edit]

Fassi coached Curry to European, World, and Olympic titles in 1976.[1] In the same year, he was the flag bearer at the Winter Olympics for Great Britain[3] and was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1976.[citation needed]

As an amateur competitor, Curry was noted for his ballet-like posture and extension, and his superb body control. Along with Canadian skater Toller Cranston, Curry was responsible for bringing the artistic and presentation aspects of men's figure skating to a new level. At the peak of his competitive career, Curry was also accomplished both at compulsory figures and the athletic (jumping) aspects of free skating. His skating was unusual in that his jumps were performed counter-clockwise but most of his spins (except flying spins) were performed clockwise. In his 1978 biography, Curry is clear that if he were to do it over, his choice would have been in favour of ballet due to its highly defined structure which was a basis for his ability to jump and spin in either direction thanks to his command of a true centre line understanding.[citation needed]

Professional career[edit]

Following the 1976 World Championships, Curry turned professional and founded a touring skating company along the same lines as a traditional dance company. Besides choreographing routines for the company, Curry commissioned works from such noted dance choreographers as Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Peter Martins and Twyla Tharp. Curry was reportedly a difficult person to get along with, and a dispute with the business managers of his company forced it to suspend operations in the mid-1980s. After that, Curry performed only rarely in public.[citation needed]

Curry's Broadway theatre credits include Icedancing (1978)[4] as a performer[5] and director and the 1980 revival of Brigadoon as an actor and the Roundabout Theatre 1989 revival of Privates on Parade as an actor.

Personal life[edit]

Prior to the 1976 World Championships, Curry was outed as gay by a German tabloid newspaper, Bild-Zeitung.[6] It caused a brief scandal in Europe at the time, but Curry's sexual orientation was generally ignored by the press and public for many years afterwards.[original research?]

In 1987 Curry was diagnosed with HIV, and in 1991 with AIDS. Before his death, he spoke to the press about both his disease and his sexual orientation. He spent the last years of his life with his mother. He died of an AIDS-related heart attack on 15 April 1994 in Binton, Warwickshire, aged 44.[citation needed]

A 2007 biography of actor Alan Bates claimed that Curry and Bates had a two-year affair, and that Curry died in Bates's arms.[citation needed]

In 2018, a documentary on Curry's life and career, The Ice King, was released by Dogwoof Pictures.[7]


Season Short programme Free skating Exhibition


Event 1969–70 1970–71 1971–72 1972–73 1973–74 1974–75 1975–76
Winter Olympics 10th 1st
World Champ. 14th 9th 4th 7th 3rd 1st
European Champ. 12th 7th 5th 4th 3rd 2nd 1st
St. Gervais 1st
British Champ. 2nd 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f John Curry.
  2. ^ a b c d Bird, Dennis L. (16 April 1994). "Obituary: John Curry". The Independent. London. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  3. ^ Great Britain.
  4. ^ John Curry – Scheherazade 1980 (Professional Version). Youtube
  5. ^ Edwards, Phil (2003). "The Real John Curry". Channel 4. Archived from the original on 4 April 2003.
  6. ^ "On this day 1976: John Curry skates to Olympic gold". BBC Online. 11 February 1976. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  7. ^ The Ice King-Dogwoof-Documentary Distribution Retrieved 1 April 2018.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
David Steele
BBC Sports Personality of the Year
Succeeded by
Virginia Wade