Freddie Trenkler, 88, the diminutive comic ice skater famous for his pratfalls in the Ice Capades and other shows over four decades, died May 21 in Canoga Park.
Born in Vienna, Trenkler trained as a serious ice skater but preferred making people laugh. So he dressed in rags and a battered hat and perfected slips, stumbles and arm-waving recoveries. Because of the many ways he could fall--or almost fall--he came to be billed as the Bouncing Ball of the Ice.
Trenkler first performed in the United States in a 1937 show called “Gay Blades” and thereafter toured with the Ice Capades, Sonja Henie’s Hollywood Ice Revue and other shows until his retirement in 1981.
One fall proved very real. Swinging toward the ice on a rope at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1958, while being filmed for “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Trenkler accidentally fell into the audience, slightly hurting himself and one guest. Sullivan announced both skater and spectator were well, and Trenkler took a bow at the end of the show.