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Bruce Jenner

Date of birth : 1949-10-28
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Mount Kisco, New York, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2010-07-06

Bruce Jenner, born October 28, 1949 in Mount Kisco, New York is an American athlete, aports commentator and film actor.


In 1976 Bruce Jenner, then relatively unknown, became the ninth American to win the Olympic decathlon. His score of 8,618 points at the Montreal games set a new world decathlon record, earned him a gold medal, and made his name a household word. Dubbed an "apple pie hero" by Tony Kornheiser of the New York Times and often called the "greatest athlete in the world," Jenner did not participate in a decathlon until his junior year in college. Though he was a well-rounded athlete in high school, playing football and basketball, participating in track events, and winning the East Coast overall waterskiing championship three times, he claimed never to have excelled at anything, reported a New York Times journalist. Even so, Jenner received a football scholarship to college. During his freshman year, however, the young athlete injured his knee and was eliminated from the sport. As a result, he became active in basketball and track and, under the tutelage of coach L. D. Weldon, entered the all-around competition of the decathlon. After setting a school record in his first college meet, he devoted himself exclusively to the decathlon. "I loved it," Jenner was quoted in the New York Times. "It was the most challenging thing I ever attempted, and the most satisfying. What does a fellow compete for, anyway? A gold medal? No, 95 percent of it is fulfillment."

Jenner's love of the sport prompted him to try Olympic competition. Though he lost in the decathlon at the Munich Olympics in 1972, he vowed to win in 1976, and a Time reporter attributed his 1976 gold medal triumph to "single-minded ambition." Jenner's struggle to victory, recorded in his first book, Decathlon Challenge: Bruce Jenner's Story, involved grueling workouts and the support of family and friends. He even erected a hurdle in his living room so that he could improve his technique, and his first wife, Chrystie, worked full time so that he could train. In addition, the Jenners moved to San Jose, California, so that Bruce could practice with the champions of individual events rather than train only with other decathletes. "If you train with a decathlon man," a New York Times reporter quoted Jenner, "you can't visualize that you can do much better. But if you throw the discuss with Mac Wilkins or throw the shot with Al Feuerbach, then they're 20 feet ahead of me. You learn much more that way." Described in Time as "a hand grenade ready to explode . . . hungry, extremely motivated," the amateur athlete saw his training pay off at the Montreal games when he won the Olympic gold medal in the decathlon. He immediately retired from decathlon competition. "This was the last meet of my life," quoted the New York Times. "Now that I've won it, there's nothing left for me. The decathlon is nothing between the Olympics, and I've enjoyed the climb to the top."

Determined not to fade from the public mind as many successful athletes before him had, the decathlete plotted his post-Olympic career with the same determination as his athletic career. "I wasn't going to be a dummy and let it slip through my fingers," he told Kornheiser; "the whole ball game is to preserve your credibility and not do something that makes you look like a fool."

Consequently, Jenner was cautious about giving product endorsements, interviews, and public appearances, waiting until he had established himself as a television sports broadcaster before signing any contracts. He rejected doing a Cosmopolitan centerfold, television commercials for cologne and toothpaste, and various guest appearances. When he did begin endorsing products, it was with the understanding that he could decline to appear in commercials he thought ridiculous. For example, Jenner signed a five year contract with General Mills to appear on the "Wheaties" cereal box and also supported the Wheaties Sports Federation Summer Games, but he refused to do a commercial requiring that he pop out of a box of "Wheaties."

A "real-life version of the American dream, fairly bursting with honest vitality, infectious health, and cheerful good humor," according to Kenneth Turan of the Washington Post, Jenner appeared in his first movie, "Can't Stop the Music," in 1980. Though the movie received mixed reviews, producer Allan Carr expressed confidence that Jenner would one day achieve the stature of an actor such as Kirk Douglas. "He looks like a leading man should look," Carr told Bob Ottum in a Sports Illustrated interview. "The appeal is to both sexes, to men and women. Women can ooh and aah over Jenner, and their husbands and boyfriends won't feel threatened by him. That's the appeal."

With an income exceeding $500,000 a year by 1977, Jenner no longer worried about achieving Olympian feats. As he told Kornheiser of the New York Times, "I used to dream about the Olympics all the time, used to dream about crossing the finish line in the 1,500 meters. But ever since the Olympics I haven't dreamed about it at all. It's like a part of my life ended up there. And now, I'm always thinking ahead, always thinking ahead."

Born October 28, 1949, in Mount Kisco, N.Y.; son of William Jenner (a tree surgeon); married Chrystie Crownover, December 16, 1972 (divorced, 1981); married Linda Thompson; children: (first marriage) Burt, Casey; (second marriage) Brendan, Sam Brody. Education: Received undergraduate degree from Graceland College.


Olympic Gold Medal in decathlon, 1976; named male athlete of the year in Associated Press poll, 1976; James E. Sullivan Trophy from the Amateur Athletic Union, 1976, for outstanding amateur athlete of the year; Track and Field Performer of the Year Award from Sport, 1976.


Athlete, sports commentator, actor. Sold insurance in San Jose, Calif., beginning in 1973; founder of 8618, Inc., with first wife, Chrystie Jenner, 1976; American Broadcasting Co. (ABC-TV), New York City, sports commentator on "Wide World of Sports" and "The World Superstars," and guest interviewer on "Good Morning, America," 1976-80; National Broadcasting Co. (NBC-TV), New York City, sports commentator, 1980--. Actor in films, including "Can't Stop the Music," 1980. Guest on television variety shows, specials, and dramatic series, including "Chips." Lecturer at colleges, universities, and conventions. Member of the U.S. Olympic team, 1972 and 1976.


* (With Phillip Finch) Decathlon Challenge: Bruce Jenner's Story, Prentice-Hall, 1977.
* (With Chrystie Jenner and Ross Olney) Bruce and Chrystie Jenner's Guide to Family Fitness, Grosset, 1978.
* (With Marc Abraham) Bruce Jenner's Guide to the Olympics, Andrews & McMeel, 1979.
* (With R. Smith Kiliper) The Olympics and Me (juvenile), Doubleday, 1980.
* (With Bill Dobbins) Bruce Jenner's The Athletic Body: A Complete Fitness Guide for Teenagers-Sports, Strength, Health, Agility, Simon & Schuster (New York), 1984.
* (With Marc Abraham) Bruce Jenner's Viewers Guide to the 1984 Summer Olympics, Andrews, McMeel & Parker, 1984.
* (With Mark Seal) Finding the Champion Within: A Step-by-step Plan for Reaching Your Full Potential, Simon & Schuster, 1996.

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