SEPTEMBER 29, 2001


Born November 14, 1915, either in the Florida Everglades or in Jacksonville, Mabel, orphaned at age 8, moved to New York with her brother. As her sister-in-law did not accept her, she slept on a park bench until a woman gave her a job baby-sitting above Central Park. There, Mabel watched the skaters. She bought an oversize pair of skates, stuffed them, and began skating in the park. Professional skaters soon gave her free lessons. Moving to California (CA) in the 1940s, Fairbanks performed in nightclub skating shows before joining the Ice Capades & Ice Follies. However, she was not allowed into the U.S. Olympic trials or any competitive figure skating events. Later as a coach, Mabel worked with Atoy Wilson (1st black skater to win a U.S. title), Tai Babilonia & Randy Gardner, Tiffany Chin, Scott Hamilton, Kristi Yamaguchi & Rudy Galindo, and Debi Thomas. Halls of Fame: U.S. Figure Skating (1977) & International Women’s Sports (2001-Coach category).  Fairbanks died in Burbank, CA.

Source:  The Undefeated, “Mabel Fairbanks: The first African-American in the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame,” Andscape, 2/19/2018.  Retrieved 3/21/2022, Mabel Fairbanks: The first African-American in the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame (
Photo:  Author and date unknown. Fair Use.

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