Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a girl skated so beautifully that she was given a medal made of gold. Princes fell in love with her, and princesses wanted to look just like her. Then she joined the Ice Capades and moved to Hollywood, where she was expected to live happily ever after.
A lifetime later, in a land called Delmarva, Dorothy Hamill is crying. It is Jan. 6, 1994, and Dorothy is in pain from a broken rib suffered the night before, when the Prince gripped her the wrong way on a lift during their waltz number. But that's not why she is crying. Nor is she in tears at the prospect of spending a winter week in the town of Salisbury, Md., on the Delmarva Peninsula, skating at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center (BINGOMANIA FEB. 19, says the marquee). Dorothy likes the small cities she goes to nowadays because the audiences are so enthusiastic.
No, she is crying because she's happy. She has just seen the Ice Capades, Dorothy Ha-mill's Ice Capades, perform Cinderella...Frozen in Time to a standing ovation—without her. Her understudy in the title role, Delene MacKenzie, was so wonderful her first time out that Hamill has been moved to tears.
She says good night to various members of the company, who are hurrying back to the hotel to 1) deliver their "secret Santa" presents, 2) watch the men's finals of the U.S. figure skating championships and 3) catch more news about the assault on Nancy Kerrigan by an apparent wacko earlier that day. Asked if anything like that had ever happened to her, Dorothy says, "Well, once two men hiding in our garage in Connecticut surprised me, but they were just religious fanatics trying to save me from a life of Hollywood."
As the last skaters leave, five-year-old Alexandra Forsythe tugs on the hem of her mother's skirt. "Mommy," she pleads, "can I go skating now?"
"Not now, monkey," says Hamill. "Tomorrow. It's time for bed, don't you think?"
Alexandra, known as Packy, is the only child of Dorothy Hamill and Dr. Kenneth Forsythe. But then Dorothy is also the matriarch of 30 skaters, 15 crew members and several tractor-trailers' worth of ice-show business. And that's just the East Tour of the Ice Capades. There is a concurrent West Tour, which Hamill also runs and periodically skates with. So multiply the people and the costumes and the props and the ice-, fog- and snow-making machinery by two, and you have some idea of what Dot, as she is known to everyone in the show, is chaperoning.
In addition she is the guardian of the proud history and tenuous future of the Ice Capades, the granddaddy of all ice shows. "This is my second dream come true," says Hamill. "My first dream came true when I was 19, which is a little early to start asking, What next? So I had to find another dream, and this is it."
Partly because she has aged so gracefully, people have a hard time reconciling 37-year-old Dorothy Hamill, president of Dorothy Hamill International and executive producer of Cinderella...Frozen in Time, with 19-year-old Dorothy Hamill, frozen in time at the 12th Winter Games. In four nearly flawless minutes at the Olympic Ice Hall in Innsbruck, on Feb. 13, 1976, she walleyed, toe-looped, Salchowed, Axeled and Lutzed her way into our hearts, finishing her performance with her signature Hamill camel (a camel spin into a sit spin). The nearsighted girl in the pink dress further endeared herself to millions by squinting to see her scores (eight 5.8's and a 5.9 in technical merit, all 5.9's in artistic interpretation). The gold medal was hers, and as she stood shyly, demurely on the platform, she seemed to have stepped out of a storybook. And what a storybook name, Dorothy.
Women everywhere began to order up her short and sassy hairdo, the Hamill Wedge. Her hair, in fact, became as famous as she was. A few months after her gold medal, she was touring a museum in Delaware with her mother when a guide came up to her and said, "I like your Dorothy Hamill haircut." Thanks, she said, not telling the guide who she was.