On Sunday, January 23, 1972, youngsters from Sacramento, California to Syracuse, New York begged their parents to "stay up just a little later". An hour after the "World Of Disney" aired the Lesley Ann Warren film "The One And Only, Genuine, Original Family Band", NBC presented a charming one hour skating special that history has all but overlooked - "To Europe With Love".
"To Europe With Love" was Peggy Fleming's third made-for-TV special. It came on the heels of "Peggy Fleming At Sun Valley", which won two Emmy awards. Directed by Sterling Johnson, produced by Dick Foster and packaged for NBC by Bob Banner Associates, the production was filmed in the autumn of 1971 over a four week period. Most of the scenes were shot in Grenoble, where Peggy won Olympic gold in 1968, but the crew also filmed in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. One of the more memorable scenes from the production was a skating scene set on a glacier on Jakobshorn mountain in the Alps, overlooking Davos.
There were some adventures along the way. In Switzerland, Peggy climbed atop the roof of a two-story home with four others and took on the role of a chimney sweep. She recalled, "Swiss chimney sweeps got around by bicycle, riding along even on snow while balancing their ladder and long broom... The mayor [also] closed the schools in three districts to permit hundreds of children to participate in one scene to fill two acres of ice with skaters."
Peggy skated both solo and duet performances in "To Europe With Love", performing with nine time Austrian Champion Willy Bietak and Paul Sibley, a former star of the Wiener Eisrevue. The title track for the show was written by Everett Gordon, but the bulk of the music came from the Austrian pop group The Milestones and special guest star Andy Williams. The production was a reunion of sorts for Peggy and Andy. Back in 1966, she had made her first network variety show appearance on his show. Andy even laced up and took to the ice in one scene of "To Europe With Love" with Peggy that was filmed at the stunning Neuschwanstein Castle in southwest Bavaria.
Less than two weeks after "To Europe With Love" aired, Peggy was in Sapporo, Japan commentating with Jim Simpson on NBC's coverage of the 1972 Winter Olympic Games. Though "To Europe With Love" received good reviews, it kind of got lost in the shuffle as Trixi Schuba - coincidentally a European - succeeded the American star as the new Olympic Gold Medallist in women's figure skating.
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