Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cathy Rigby

#28 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.

Cathy Rigby is 57.  I recently incited controversy by describing her as 60 ( no, it was “SIXTY”) and was corrected, though not by her.rigby77

They just don’t make Olympics like they used to.

As long as The Readership is clinging to their accuracy (and we thank you for that) let me emphasize that Rigby is also a 60’s memory, as she first appeared in the Olympics in 1968 at 16, bringing the US into contention.  Sort of.

But then, we were raised to believe that the Soviet Union ran forced death march camps of tiny children in order to sweep the Olympics, and that winning Worlds was not the same as Olympic medaling.  Rigby didn’t do either.  But oh… how we loved her.
She was warm and cute and fit in your pocket.  That other blonde Chris-Evert-Biographypixie we loved was a little intimidating. 

She would kick her way out, we thought.

But let’s talk Rigby.  In another era, in another time, in another phase of her sport, she might have made the platform.  She coulda been a contenda.  But it was not her night.

How American.


newly born, 1968.

This is Rigby in the 70s World Championships.  Gymnastics was not as fast or as violent as it is today – the emphasis was on control and flexibility.  POISE.  We still valued poise in those days, and of course excellence.  Not Keanu Reeves “excellent,” but a job well done.  Not THE best, but OUR best, and in the grainy-yellow days of our Viet Nam era, you didn’t need to win if you made a good showing.

Rigby hung on through 2 more Olympics, retiring from the sport at 20, still under 5 ft tall.  (Evert, by the way, a gangly 65.5 inches, taller than BJ King.)

What else could a girl do?  Mary Martin was 60 and someone needed to take Pan on its 20th anniversary tour.  A career was born.  More on which in a moment.

Cathy Rigby is in the Museum of Menstruation.  Which part of that sentence do you love the most? 

Maybe it’s their logo:
The MUM (oh hilarious) is a clunky-looking website, but there is some great stuff on there, next time you are up too late flipping through the Internet like a magazine.  Spend some time on the Menarche Education area and you too can be as modern as a shaved flapper.

Here is a 1980s memory that this essay should include, because the adhesive strip (peel peel peel) did change our lives.

(even though you and I both know there’s no way she’s wearing a cotton ponyStayfree, which in 1981 were about 3 inches wide and as thick as a roll of socks)  

Stayfree taught us there is a perfect time every month to wear your most form-fitting white clothes.

Rigby promised a farewell tour of Peter Pan in 2005, as the character marked his/her 100th anniversary. and yet she returns to Branson this summer (playing for the next 2 weeks, ya’all).  Never grow up, indeed.    She looks a little like Betty Buckley just there. 

Tickets are $45. And you may seriously not get this chance again.  The only person left who fits in that rig(by) is Kristen Chenoweth or Jada Pinkett.



  1. I am about to go on my first long bike ride, and this reminds me that it would be handy to have some of those 1980's Stay-Free maxis around.

  2. Yes, you can use it AS the bicycle seat.


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