From Jumps To Jell-O: The Mia Macklin Story

Bassano and Vandyk Studios photograph. Courtesy National Portrait Gallery.

The daughter of Noel and Leslie (Cordery) Macklin, Mia Leslie Macklin was born October 28, 1920 in the town of Chertsey in Surrey, England. Her father was a well-known automobile and boat manufacturer; her mother a Monte Carlo socialite. Mia, her brother Lance and sister Nada were raised with silver spoons in their mouths. They grew up at Fairmile, their family's sprawling estate in Cobham, with the girls attending the prestigious Heathfield School in Berkshire. As a girl, Mia learned to skate at the private Park Lane rink at Grosvenor House.

Something of a child prodigy by the standard of the time, by the age of twelve Mia had already appeared in three short "Sunday Express" series films called "Stars Of Destiny". Like Cecilia Colledge and Megan Taylor, the pair of twelve year olds who had captured the attention of the press at the 1932 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, Mia Macklin was for a brief period in the early thirties something of a skating sensation in the eyes of British reporters.

Though she finished off the podium at the British Championships that served as a selection event for the 1936 Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Mia was one of five British skaters who competed in the women's event at that year's European Championships in Berlin. Though the talented fourteen year old found herself in the top ten after the school figures, a disappointing free skate dropped her down to eleventh. She fared much better as one of seven British women at the 1936 World Championships in Paris, where her strong figures helped her place eighth overall... ahead of Etsuko Inada, Yvonne de Ligne, Jacqueline Vaudecrane and several other very talented skaters. The February 24, 1936 issue of "The Scotsman" noted that she was "very graceful, but nearly fell in the middle of one of her Axel Paulsens." The following month, she returned to the British Championships, but finished off the podium, well behind Cecilia Colledge, Mollie Phillips and Belita Jepson-Turner. She did however manage to defeat several more talented skaters of that era at those Championships, including Pamela Prior, Daphne Walker, Gladys Jagger and Pamela Stephany. That event marked the end to a very short figure skating career.

Mia's life after her stint as a child skating prodigy was thoroughly fascinating. As a teenager, she was presented to the Court Of St. James and married off to Peter Rowland Hodge of the Royal Artillery, the son of Sir Rowland Frederick William Hodge, the famous and controversial Northumberald shipping magnate. She won the European water-skiing championship in France and during World War II, drove a blitz buggy, served as an A.R.P. warden in England and as a dispatch worker for the U.S. Air Force. Her father's company provided the Royal Navy with motor, gun and torpedo boats.

Mia Macklin posed with her blitz buggy and a bevy of American mechanics 

Mia divorced Peter in 1945 and moved to America with aspirations of achieving the same fame in pictures that other skaters like Sonja Henie, Belita and Věra Hrubá were enjoying at the time. Though she did manage to briefly snag a contract with Twentieth Century-Fox, the extent of her 'acting career' was an appearance as a harem girl in the 1946 film "Anna and the King of Siam".

John Vietor, Jr. and Mia Macklin

Mia  gave up quickly on her silver screen aspirations in February 1946, when she married Eleanor Woodward Vietor's son at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City. John 'Jack' Adolf Vietor Jr.  was a bomber pilot and World War II P.O.W. who was the heir to his mother's seven million dollar Jell-O fortune. The wedding was a swanky, high society affair; Mia was given away by 'Prince' Vladimir Sergeyevich Rashevskiy, a renowned Russian race car driver who lived in Paris. Hedda Hopper made a point of noting that she had only been divorced for six months.

A day before her birthday in 1951, Mia became a naturalized U.S. citizen. She settled with her husband in a mansion on the water in La Jolla, California. John Vietor rubbed shoulders with JFK and drank with Errol Flynn and Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Suess. Mia appeared on the cover of Neil Morgan's 1951 book "My San Diego" and a series of portraits she posed for appeared in Great Britain's National Portrait Gallery. In December 1952, she was pictured in "National Geographic" on water skis (a la Belita) in a feature on La Jolla. The couple had a son and daughter named Mielle and Noel but divorced in 1953. John Vietor remarried to Lita di Grazia, the sister of a tequila importer, and died of a heart attack aboard a cruise ship at the Xingang Port in Tianjin, China in November 1982. Mia moved to Beverly Hills with her share of the Jell-O pie. She died September 25, 2002 at the age of eighty-one in West Hollywood... her brief stint as a child skating star all but forgotten.

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