Saturday, April 16, 2011
Vintage Video: Toller Cranston
Toller Shalitoe Montague Cranston, CM (born April 20, 1949) is a Canadian figure skater and painter. He is the 1971-1976 Canadian national champion, the 1974 World bronze medalist, and the 1976 Olympic bronze medalist. Although he never won a world level competition due to poor compulsory figures, he won the small medal for free skating at the 1972, 1974, and 1975 World Figure Skating Championships. Cranston is credited by many with bringing a new level of artistry to men's figure skating.
Cranston was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1949 and grew up in Kirkland Lake. When he was 11, his family moved to suburban Montreal.
Growing up, Cranston had an uneasy relationship with his family, especially his mother who was also a painter and who had a domineering and self-centered personality. He later compared his childhood to "being in jail". In school he had the habit of asking provocative questions that made his teachers think he was being disruptive. Although he enjoyed history, he disliked more structured subjects like mathematics.
After high school, Cranston attended the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Montreal. By his third year, he became restless with his studies. One of his teachers suggested that there was nothing more he could learn at the school, so Cranston set out at that point to establish himself as a professional artist.
In 1976, he teamed with personal manager Elva Oglanby to write his first book, Toller, a mixture of autobiography, sketches, poems, paintings, humour and tongue-in-cheek observations.It reached number 2 in the Canadian non-fiction charts.
Cranston co-wrote the autobiographical Zero Tollerance (1997) with Martha Lowder Kimball, and a second volume, When Hell Freezes Over: Should I Bring My Skates? (2000), also with Kimball. While he described a sexual tryst between himself and Ondrej Nepela in the second book as well as affairs with women, in his books he presents himself as having lived without forming strong romantic or emotional attachments.
As of 2010, he lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where his main artistic outlet is now his painting, which often incorporates themes related to skating.