No matter what the plastic surgeon did, her best feature always was, and still is, her candor. Sometimes that got Linda Fratianne in trouble. She is a figure skater and skaters are supposed to be as politic as skating is political.
She glanced at a magazine story, written just before the 1980 Olympics, where she was expected to win the gold, not the silver, medal in figure skating. "Oh," she said, "is that my 'nose job' interview?" There was also her "too shy for stardom" interview and her "she doesn't smile enough" interview. This is all said with good humor and with the savvy of one who has perhaps given too many interviews.
Now, three years removed from the pressures and the pains of Olympic competition, she is giving her "Snow White lives happily ever after" interview. At 22, she is the star of Walt Disney's World on Ice and plays the part of Snow White, a dream come true for someone who grew up so close to Disneyland. She will compete in the World Professional Figure Skating Championship for the Avon Cup at Capital Centre on Friday night. She has sold 300,000 copies of her own exercise record, endorses a line of clothing and will appear in the Rose Bowl Parade. She's in real estate, too.
But most important, she has wakened from the reverie where handmaidens (i.e., mothers and coaches) dress you, drive you, feed you and cater to you; where everyone can be trusted and limos always arrive.
Monday night, for example, the limousine did not arrive at the airport. "I got my dog and a cab and got myself to the hotel," she said.
This may not seem like a big deal. But, independence is less majestic in practice than in theory. No wonder she likes being on the road. After years of being someone else's creation, she gets to be her own person. "I have my dog, and my stuffed animals (a yellow duck and a hound dog) and my popcorn popper," she said. "I go to a hotel room, put away the ashtrays, put away the ads, and put up my stuffed animals. And when I go to Anaheim, I'll buy a Christmas tree for my room."
It has taken her three years to become so self-sufficient. Figure skaters, like certain orchids, are bred in rarefied air, to bloom once every four years. They are ill equipped to cope with the thereafter.
Fratianne bloomed on schedule. She says her performance at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid was the best of her life. But it was not enough. She finished second to Anett Poetzsch of East Germany.
At the same time, her parents' marriage was disintegrating, and she had to cope with the "terrible guilt feeling that the reason for the divorce was that my mother was always with me. Now I believe it wasn't because of the that. I that to believe it, that it didn't work because it didn't work."
In March 1980 she competed in the world championship on a bad ankle, and lost the title that she had twice held. Later that month, she turned pro, signing a contract with the William Morris Agency and agent Norman Brokaw. Brokaw talked about forming Fratianne's own ice show. He said the only difference between a silver and gold is the color. "He talked and I wanted to believe him," she said.
"I was going to sign with Management III (her current agent)," she added. "But Norman called and said, 'I can make your daughter a star.' My mom said, 'Let's go with him.' I was never able to get a word in and neither was she. It didn't work out.
"I was a kid, naive as hell. Here he was a big agent of Beverly Hills. I had my mother and my father and Frank (Carroll, her coach) to trust. I wanted so badly to trust him and I couldn't."
She went from the Olympics to the strip in Las Vegas: "Not the best move of my life." She had no idea how to write a check or drive a car. She was alone, unhappy, confused.
John Carlow, an old friend, also appearing in this competition, remembers seeing her in Las Vegas then and telling her about watching out for yourself. "She was still being controlled then," he said. "Now, she's breaking from that. She is becoming her own boss."
Eventually, Fratianne broke with Brokaw and signed with Jim Golden at Management III, even though it meant paying a percentage of her earnings to both for a time. "Jim basically straightened my life out," she said.
He negotiated contracts with Ice Follies and Disney on Ice, which run through the end of the 1983-1984 season.
Fratianne's mother, Virginia, who traveled with her so much in her amateur days, is a real estate agent now. "We were dependent on each other," Fratianne said. "She had a hard time, I'm sure. Frank did, too, I'm sure."
Though she agrees it stunts your growth to be so sheltered, and says she is doing now what she should have been doing at age 16, there was no alternative. She says she could not have made it that far on her own. "I didn't know any different way and I didn't question it," she said. "I didn't know what I was missing. I didn't know about boys or proms.
"I was innocent because I never got out in the real world. I skated eight hours a day and went to bed at 8 p.m. I don't think the innocence is over. I'm still very innocent basically because I'm just starting to live."