A 1960 Olympic torch.
Aluminum, 48.5 cm, top half of crown with pierced Olympic rings above central band with embossed inscription "VIII Olympic Winter Games 1960," lower half with raised official logo of the Squaw Valley Games between two branches with embossed inscription "Olympia to Squaw Valley," set on a solid turned aluminum shaft, without protective grip tape.
Provenance: from the collection of a member of the Olympic Torch Relay Committee for the Squaw Valley games.
AMONG THE RAREST OF OLYMPIC TORCHES, ONE OF ONLY A SMALL NUMBER OF EXAMPLES FROM THE 1960 WINTER OLYMPICS AT SQUAW VALLEY, CALIFORNIA. The torch was designed by John Hench, legendary Disney animator and designer, who had been appointed the task by Walt Disney as Chairman of the Pageantry Committee for the games. Hench modeled the torch on those from the 1948 and 1956 games while incorporating the games' official star/snowflake emblem. There are thought to have been only 23 examples made. Hench also designed snow-sculptures to line the Avenue of Athletes, as well as the massive, seventy-nine foot-tall Tower of Nations.
The torch bears the inscription "Olympia to Squaw Valley," indicating the route originally envisioned by the planning committee. However, the Hellenic Olympic Committee having been informed too late to organize a lighting ceremony, the Organizing Committee turned to the site of the torch lighting for the 1952 Winter Gamesthe hearth of the home of pioneering skier Sondre Norheim in Morgedal, Norway. From there the torch was flown to Los Angeles, and thence began its 19 day journey to Squaw Valley, carried by foot in one-mile sections by some 700 hundred high school athletes and former Olympic champions. At the Opening Ceremony the torch was passed by American skier Andrea Mead Lawrence to skater Kenneth Charles Henry, who lit the cauldron.
The Squaw Valley games were a great success, and marked a number of Olympic "firsts," among them the inaugural construction of an Olympic Village (a single hotel being the only lodgings in Squaw Valley at the time it won the bid); the first time that artificial ice was used; the deployment of new time-keeping equipment which could measure to the hundredth of a second; the first time television rights to the games were sold, with CBS providing the broadcast; and the first time instant reply was employed. Disney received accolades for his contributions, which in addition to Hench's design elements included providing entertainment for the athletes; nightly movie screenings were held, as were performances by a bevy of Hollywood stars Bing Crosby, Red Skelton, Marlene Dietrich, Jayne Mansfield, Danny Kaye, and Jack Benny among them.