Dennis Kienitz of Edina, who was an avid collector of all things Sonja Henie, began the hobby when his mother was about to throw out her scrapbook on the three-time Olympic figure skating champion and movie star from Norway.
That was only the beginning of his collecting.
At his home, visitors would get an eyeful of the kitschy and glamorous things in his collection, which included eight mannequins with plumed and shiny costumes that Henie had worn during her show career; a couple of dozen Sonja Henie dolls; magazine ads in which Henie hawked everything from cars to tea to cigarettes; movie posters and much more.
Kienitz, 59, a retired Northwest Airlines flight attendant, died of complications from pancreatic cancer Sept. 16 in Edina.
In the mid-1970s, his mother showed him a Henie scrapbook she had made when she was a girl.
"I have no use for it. I'll toss it," a Jan. 23, 1994, Star Tribune article quoted Marie Kienitz as saying.
Marie Kienitz, who had moved to the Twin Cities from Sweden when she was a girl, told her son: "There's nothing out there to add to it."
He took that as a challenge and "the hunt began," he said in 1994. "It's a hobby. It's fun just collecting."
He had moved to the Miami area as a teenager. After working for the telephone company in Florida, he moved back to the Twin Cities for the Northwest Airlines job in the late 1970s.
In his south Minneapolis home, there were times when "you could barely walk through the room," said his longtime partner, Lindsay Kruh of Minneapolis.
"He was just in seventh heaven," when in the 1980s he acquired the costumes from a retired figure skater in Chicago, Kruh said.
Kienitz had many of Henie's films on videotape, but in 1988 he had lacked a few, such as "It's a Pleasure," released in 1947.
That's how he met Roy Blakey of Minneapolis, a retired skater for the Holiday on Ice shows and a retired photographer, who contacted him after a newspaper article mentioned the gap in his collection. In no time, Kienitz was on a flight to New York, where Blakey was living.
Blakey said Kienitz's collection was probably the best of its kind. "He was a very good friend, and very generous with his collection, sharing duplicates," said Blakey, who collects theatrical skating memorabilia.
Kienitz was not a figure skater. In his job, he had won several customer service awards, including the Northwest Airlines Customer Service Champion in Flight Service Award in 2003 and 2004.
He retired in 2007.
His brother, Gerald Kienitz of Pompano Beach, Fla., a former Northwest Airlines flight attendant, saw his brother on flights.
"He knew how to make passengers feel comfortable," said his brother. "He could make them laugh."
In addition to his partner, and his brother, he is survived by his nephew, Joel Kienitz of Gainesville, Fla.
Services will be at 5 p.m. Friday in the Washburn McReavy Chapel, 5000 W. 50th St. & Hwy. 100, Edina. Visitation will begin at 4 p.m. in the chapel.