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Richard Dwyer - "Mr. Debonair" Ice Skating Show Star and Figure Skatiing Legend

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"Mr. Debonair" Richard Dwyer and National Showcase Figure Skating Champion 2009 Phoebe Schneider

Photo Courtesy of Amy Schneider

"Mr. Debonair" Richard Dwyer:

Richard Dwyer is one of the most popular ice skating show stars in figure skating history. He was and is the famous "Mr. Debonair." He skated in both Ice Follies and Ice Capades.

Early Skating Days:

In 1943, Richard Dywer's entire family went to see the Ice Follies. After that, his father decided to take his children ice skating. His siblings lost interest, but Richard loved to skate.

Dwyer skated in amateur shows in Chicago, in Seattle, and in Vancouver. He became close friends with the Shipstad children. As a young child, he skated at the Sonja Henie Westwood Ice Gardens rink in southern California.

Competitive Skating Career:

Dwyer enjoyed a successful competitive figure skating career. He won the United States National Figure Skating Championships in the Juvenile, Novice, and Junior Men's divisions and also competed in the national championships as a Senior against the legendary Dick Button.

  • 1946 – Pacific Coast Juvenile Men's Figure Skating Champion
  • 1948 – United States National Novice Men's Figure Skating Champion
  • 1949 – United States Junior Men's Figure Skating Champion
  • 1950 – Competitior, Senior Men's at U.S. Nationals (4th in figures, 2nd in freeskate)

Education:

When Richard Dwyer toured with Ice Follies, he would attend the local Jesuit high school in whatever city the show was performing in. In the 1950s, shows stayed in one city for three or four weeks, so the young skating star would attend a full day of classes like any high school student. He made many friends at each school he attended. His mother traveled with him during his early show years and made sure he did well with his studies.

Dwyer had hoped to obtain a degree in law, but that did not happen. He did go to college and completed an undergraduate curriculum.

Richard Dwyer Became "Young Debonair" in 1950:

When Richard Dwyer was fourteen years old, Roy Shipstad of Shipstads and Johnson Ice Follies, decided to retire from performing in the show. Roy Shipstad was looking for a young skater to take on his role of "Debonair." At that time, ice shows followed promising young amateur skaters and looked for talent. Dwyer had just won the national junior men's figure skating title. The Shipstads "discovered" Dwyer. They wanted to bring in a young boy who wouldn’t be compared to Roy, but would grow up under Roy Shipstad's guidance.

The "Young Debonair" Eventually Became "Mr. Debonair":

Roy Shipstad was the original "Debonair," so Richard Dwyer became the "Young Debonair." When Dwyer was almost thirty years old, his title changed to "The Debonair." Later, he was "Mr. Debonair."

Six Beautiful "Dwyer Girls" :

Richard Dwyer always skated with six beautiful girls in the glamour gowns.

Gave Away Roses:

In every show, Richard Dwyer would give away a dozen roses to a random "grandmothering type" lady who was sitting in the front row in the audience.

Richard Dwyer and Susan Berens:

Ricard Dwyer skated pairs in Ice Follies. He had thirteen different pair skating partners during his years in the show. The most famous pair partner he had was Susan Berens who had competed in pair skating at the World Figure Skating Championships.

Awards:

In 1993, Dwyer was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

Life After the Show:

Richard Dwyer has managed ice arenas and has taught figure skating. "Mr. Debonair" continues to appear as a guest performer in ice shows and at figure skating events.

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