John Curry

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John Curry
Personal information
Full name John Anthony Curry
Country represented United Kingdom
Born (1949-09-09)9 September 1949
Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Died 15 April 1994(1994-04-15) (aged 44)
Binton, Warwickshire, England
Former coach Carlo Fassi, Gustav Lussi,
Arnold Gerschwiler
Retired 1976
Olympic medal record
Men's figure skating
Representing  United Kingdom
Gold medal – first place 1976 Innsbruck Singles

John Anthony Curry, OBE (9 September 1949 – 15 April 1994)[1] was a British figure skater. He was the 1976 Olympic and World Champion. He was famous for combining ballet and modern dance influences into his skating.

Early life

Curry was born on 9 September 1949 in Birmingham, England. He was educated at Solihull School, an Independent School in the West Midlands followed later by St Andrews, an independent boarding school in Somerset. As a child, Curry wanted to become a dancer, but his father disapproved of dance as an activity for boys, so instead at the age of 7 he began to take figure skating lessons.

Skating career

For the first several years, Curry's involvement with skating was rather casual. Curry's father died when he was 15;[2] he then 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.

Competitive career

Fassi coached Curry to European, World, and Olympic titles in 1976.

Curry was the flag bearer at the 1976 Winter Olympics for Great Britain. He was also voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1976.

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. Curry's skating was unusual in that his jumps were performed counter-clockwise but most of his spins (except flying spins) were performed clockwise.

Professional career

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 himself, 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.

Curry's Broadway theatre credits include Icedancing (1978)[3] as a performer[4] 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

Prior to the 1976 World Championships, Curry was outed as gay by a German tabloid newspaper, Bild-Zeitung.[5] 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.

In 1987 Curry was diagnosed with HIV, and in 1991 with AIDS. Before his death, he spoke openly 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; he was 44 years old. A 2007 biography of actor Alan Bates claimed that Curry and Bates had a two-year affair,[6] and that Curry died in Bates's arms.[7]


Season Short program 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


  1. Bird, Dennis L. (16 April 1994). "Obituary: John Curry". The Independent. London. Retrieved 22 August 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Maestro, "Reminiscences of a Master Sportsman," BBC2, 1987,
  3. Scheherazade 1980
  4. Edwards, Phil (2003). "The Real John Curry". Channel 4. Archived from the original on 4 April 2003.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "On this day 1976: John Curry skates to Olympic gold". BBC Online. 11 February 1976. Retrieved 22 August 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Spoto, Donald (21 May 2007). "The dangerous gay double life of actor Alan Bates". Daily Mail. UK. Retrieved 8 November 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Spoto, Donald (19 May 2007). "Alan Bates's secret gay affair with ice skater John Curry". Daily Mail. UK. Retrieved 8 November 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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