Eleanor Holm Whalen, a champion swimmer who won two gold medals in the 1932 Olympics, became famous when her scandalous behavior got her kicked off the American swim team.
Whalen was traveling to Europe for the 1936 Games in Berlin when a chaperone turned her in to the president of the American Olympic Committee for shooting dice, carousing, breaking curfew and drinking champagne. These actions cost her a place on the U.S. Olympic team, and kept her from competing at that level ever again.
After the expulsion, Whalen became a glamorous figure in the media. Known as “The Champagne Girl,” the saucy swimmer filed reports on the Olympic games for the International News Service, and attended receptions held by Adolf Hitler and other Nazi leaders.
Back in the states, Whalen sang and swam in Billy Rose’s “Aquacades,” a traveling show that performed at the New York World’s Fair. In 1938, she appeared in the film, “Tarzan’s Revenge,” which starred Glenn Morris, the 1936 Olympic decathlon champion, in the title role.
Previously married to bandleader Art Jarrett, Eleanor wed Rose in 1940. She later divorced him and married retired oil executive Tom Whalen before settling in South Florida. There she played tennis and golf and helped build the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale.
Whalen died on Jan. 31 from kidney failure. She was 91.