Babe Didrikson Zaharias


Biography of Babe Didrikson Zaharias

Mildred Ella "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias (June 26, 1911 – September 27, 1956) was an American athlete who achieved outstanding success in golf, basketball, and track and field.

Mildred Ella Didrikson was the sixth of seven children born in the coastal oil city of Port Arthur in southeastern Texas. Her mother, Hannah, and her father, Ole, were immigrants from Norway. Her 3 eldest siblings were born in Norway, the others in Port Arthur. She later changed the spelling of her surname from Didriksen to Didrikson. She moved with her family to 850 Doucette in Beaumont, Texas, at age 4. She claimed to have acquired the nickname "Babe" (after Babe Ruth) upon hitting 5 home runs in a childhood baseball game, but in reality, her Norwegian mother had called her "Bebe" from the time she was a toddler.

Though best known for her athletic gifts, Didrikson had many talents and was a competitor in even the most domestic of occupations: sewing. An excellent seamstress, she made many of the clothes she wore, including her golfing outfits. She claimed to have won the sewing championship at the 1931 State Fair of Texas in Dallas, but in reality won the South Texas State Fair in Beaumont, embellishing the story many years later in 1953. She attended Beaumont High School. Never a strong student, she was forced to repeat the eighth grade and was a year older than her classmates. She eventually dropped out without graduating after she moved to Dallas to play basketball. She was a singer and a harmonica player. She recorded several songs on the Mercury Records label. Her biggest seller was "I Felt a Little Teardrop" with "Detour" on the flip side.

Already famous as Babe Didrikson, she married George Zaharias (1908–1984), a professional wrestler, in St. Louis, Missouri, on December 23, 1938. Thereafter, she was largely known as Babe Didrikson Zaharias or Babe Zaharias. The couple met while playing golf. George Zaharias, a Greek American, was a native of Pueblo, Colorado. Called the "Crying Greek from Cripple Creek," Zaharias also did some part-time acting. The Zahariases had no children and were rebuffed by authorities when they sought to adopt.

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