Cathy Rigby Biography

Gymnast, Film Actor/Film Actress, Athlete, Actress, Film Actress, Theater Actress (1952–)
Cathy Rigby is best known as a medal-winning American gymnast and Tony nominated actress for her theatrical production in Peter Pan.


Cathy Rigby is an American gymnast and actress born on December 12, 1952, in Los Alamitos, California. At age 15, she was the first American woman to win a medal in the World Gymnastics competition, and she participated in the Summer Olympics in 1968 and 1972. Overall, Rigby won 12 international medals, of which eight were gold. After retiring from the Olympics, she pursued acting and performed in theatrical and television shows. She earned a Best Actress Tony nomination for Peter Pan (1991). In more recent years she’s worked as a motivational speaker for both collegiate and corporate audiences.

Early Life

Gymnast, actress and motivational speaker Cathy Rigby was born on December 12, 1952, in Los Alamitos, California. The world first met Rigby as the 15-year-old girl who became the first American woman to win a medal in the World Gymnastics competition. Performing at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City and the 1972 Games in Munich, she captured the hearts of millions and popularized the sport of gymnastics in the United States.

Rigby fell in love with gymnastics at an early age. Inspired by the balance beam and set of uneven bars her father built for her in the backyard, she devoted her childhood to gymnastics under the guidance of her coach, Bud Marquette. Over the course of her gymnastics career, Rigby earned 12 international medals, eight of them gold, and was named one of America's Most Influential Women in Sports by ABC-TV's Wide World of Sports.

Transition Into Theater and Television

After the 1972 Olympic Games, Rigby retired from gymnastics and embarked on a new career in entertainment. Also during this period, she married Tommy Mason, a running back for the Los Angeles Rams (1973-1981).

Studying acting and singing for nearly 10 years, she made her on-stage musical debut in 1981 as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Described as a "genuine theatrical talent" by Variety, she has performed in the national tour of Annie Get Your Gun and productions of Meet Me in St. Louis, South Pacific, Paint Your Wagon, They're Playing Our Song and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Rigby's dramatic television movie credits include The Perfect Body, Hard to Read, The Great Wallendas and Triathlon. In addition to her theater and television performances, Rigby has headlined in Las Vegas, where she was awarded the George M. Cohan Award for Best Specialty Act.

In 1994, Cathy and her second husband, Tom McCoy, created the McCoy Rigby Series at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in La Mirada, California. As executive producers, they mounted theatrical productions and national tours, including the tour of Peter Pan, which received a 1991 Tony Award nomination for Best Revival of a Musical.

Rigby assumed the starring role in the 35th anniversary production of Peter Pan in 1991, earning a Tony nomination for Best Actress. Both the show and the cast allowed Rigby to relive the spirit of her youth and participate in events she once had to forfeit in favor of gymnastics. Backstage there were Easter-egg hunts and water-pistol fights, as well as a '50s-style prom that the cast threw especially for Rigby. She reprised her role in the A&E television production of Peter Pan in 2000, as well as in the theater in 2008 and 2009.

Motivational Speaking

Not only is Rigby an actress and athlete, but she is also a popular motivational speaker for both collegiate and corporate audiences, touring the country discussing the importance of conscientious nutrition and the benefits of "balancing wellness." The recipient of the 1992 Mother of the Year Award, Rigby is the mother of four children: Buck and Ryan (with Mason) and Theresa and Kaitlin (with McCoy).

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