The Marvellous Maxsons
Born January 5, 1920 and November 27, 1921, Robert and Ruby Maxson were the children of Frank Francis Maxson, an automobile salesman, and Florence Newstrand Maxson. Raised in Duluth, Minnesota during The Great Depression, Robert (Bobby) and Ruby learned to skate as children with their younger brother John and soon became quite proficient on the ice. They joined the Duluth Skating Club, taking their first lessons from Roy Shipstad. Dabbling in competition, they held the local junior pairs title for several years but their real joy came from putting on impromptu shows on local lakes, their spotlights the headlights from old jalopies.
Ruby and Bobby's mother died when they were only teenagers and their father was forced to move the struggling family in with his in-laws. An invitation from their former coach Roy Shipstad to join the cast of the Ice Follies in 1937 allowed them both to make more money than their father and help put food on the table. Though less experienced than their peers in the show, the 1940 Ice Follies program raved, "Their juvenile pair act in the [Arctic] Fantasy of this current 'Ice Follies' is truly sensational, and a great future is predicted for them."
That great future did come, but it was delayed by World War II. Bobby enlisted in the army and left the tour for a time to serve overseas. In his absence, Ruby teamed up with another Bobby - the handsome Bobby Blake. After the War, Bobby Maxson returned to the Ice Follies to join his sister. The March 13, 1948 issue of "The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" noted, "It was that altogether pleasing pair, as close to rhythm at perfection as anything that has ever graced the ice here. His time in the army has not robbed Bobby of any of his skill, and it was a brother-and-sister tandem very welcome back."
In 1949, Ruby and Bobby left the Ice Follies and joined the Ice Capades, where they enjoyed great acclaim for three years with their elegant performances. Critics dubbed them "the Sweethearts of the Waltz". However, in 1951 both siblings retired from the gruelling gypsy life of professional figure skating and lived in San Francisco for a time. She taught skating; he dabbled in the real estate business. They both later headed to Colorado Springs and coached at the Broadmoor. Ruby became a long-time and very well-respected coach at the prestigious club, juggling marriage and motherhood with a busy coaching schedule. Bobby married fellow Ice Follies alumni Helen Davidson, a former student of Edi Scholdan who served as the club's secretary. Together, they remained involved in both Ice Follies and Holiday On Ice as choreographers. Both Ruby and Bobby's families were as much rink rats as their parents. While some of their children excelled at spins and Salchows, others were sensational speed skaters. Sadly, both siblings passed away in Colorado Springs within years of each other. Bobby passed away on November 15, 1999 after a long illness. Ruby passed away on March 22, 2003. They were both inducted posthumously into the DECC Hall Of Fame in May 2017. Though their time at the top of the professional skating world was relatively short, there wasn't an Ice Follies or Ice Capades audience member in the forties who weren't impressed by their elegance, skill and precision.
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