Tapio Rautavaara achieved fame in his native Finland as an athlete in several sports, as a singer, and as an actor. Born to a single mother he entered the Finnish Navy after elementary school. Transferred to the Army during World War II, he spent two years fighting on the front line. But in 1943 he was transferred to entertain the troops where his excellent singing voice first achieved notice.
After the war, Rautavaara competed as a javelin thrower. He was bronze medalist at the 1946 European Championships, and 5th at that meet in 1950, and was Finnish javelin champion in 1944-45, and 1947-49, in addition to his Olympic gold medal. But he was also a top archer and competed on the Finnish team that won the World Team Championship in 1958, and he was Finnish champion in archery in 1955. But Rautavaara is best remembered in Finland for his singing and acting. He toured Finland performing in the 50s and early 60s, and eventually recorded over 300 songs. He began acting in films and television after World War II, and appeared in over 20 movies. At one time, he was considered for the role of Tarzan. Though his popularity waned slightly in the 70s, he continued to perform until his untimely death.
On 25 September 1979, Rautavaara slipped and fell at the Tikkurila Swimming Center and struck his head on the floor. Taken to a nearby clinic, his injuries were neglected as it was felt that he was possibly drunk. But the next day he collapsed from his head injury and died from a cerebral hemorrhage. A memorial to him was erected in downtown Oulunkylä, the Helsinki district where he spent most of his life.
Personal Best: JT – 75.47 (1945).
Athlete Olympic Results Content
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