Mary Lou Retton

Mary Lou Retton

Mary Lou Retton
Quick Facts About Mary Retton
Celebrated Name Mary Lou Retton
Age 56 years old
Nick Name Mary Lou Retton
Birth Name Mary Lou Retton
Birth Date 1968-01-24
Gender Female
Profession Gymnast
Birth Nation USA
Place of Birth Fairmont, West Virginia
Nationality American
Ethnicity Mixed
Father Ronnie Retton
Mother Lois Retton
High School Fairmont Senior High School
University The University of Texas
Religion Christian
Marital Status Married and Divorced
Sexual Orientation Straight
Husband Shannon Kelley (Ex)
Children Shayla (born 1995), McKenna (born 1997), Skyla (born 2000), and Emma (born 2002)
Net Worth $8 million
Source of Wealth Sports and Entertainment Industry
Salary $1 Million+
Height 4 feet 9 inches (1.45 meters)
Weight 92.5 pounds (42 kilograms)
Eye Color Dark Brown
Hair Color Dark Brown

Mary Lou Retton is an American retired gymnast. She is famous for achieving iconic status at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, where she clinched a historic gold medal in the individual all-around competition, in addition to securing two silver medals and two bronze medals, cementing her status as one of the United States' most beloved athletes. Her groundbreaking victory marked her as the first American woman to win the all-around gold medal in Olympic gymnastics. Her gymnastics career was guided by former coaches Bela Károlyi and Márta Károlyi, and she retired from the sport on September 29, 1986. Mary Lou Retton is "fighting for her life" with a serious illness, according to a fundraiser posted by her daughter. McKenna Lane Kelley said her mother has "a very rare form of pneumonia" and is "not able to breathe on her own." She said Retton has been in the ICU for more than a week.

Mary Lou Retton Biography

Mary Lou Retton, the first American gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal in the individual all-around competition, became an iconic figure in U.S. gymnastics. She achieved this milestone at the 1984 Summer Olympics while still in high school, eventually retiring from gymnastics in 1986. Renowned for her success in the sport, she earned one gold, two silver, and two bronze medals at the 1984 Olympics, leaving a lasting legacy in American gymnastics. In 1988, she made her film debut in "Scrooged," and she first appeared on television in 1984 on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson."

Mary Lou Retton, born on January 24, 1968, hails from Fairmont, West Virginia, USA. Holding American nationality, she possesses mixed ethnicity due to her Italian heritage. About her family, she is the daughter of Ronnie Retton and Lois Retton, with her father running a coal-industry transportation equipment business. She also has an older sister.  She was born with hip dysplasia, which was made worse over time by her extensive gymnastics training. Her educational journey led her to Fairmont Senior High School, although she did not graduate as she competed in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California, during her sophomore year of high school. She is a frequent analyst for televised gymnastics and attended The University of Texas at Austin after the Olympics. 

American Retired Gymnast, Mary Lou Retton

Mary Lou Retton Career

Mary Lou Retton's gymnastics journey began when she was inspired by Nadia Comăneci's performance at the 1976 Summer Olympics at the age of eight. Starting in her hometown of Fairmont, West Virginia, under the coaching of Gary Rafaloski, she later moved to Houston to train with renowned Romanian coaches Béla and Márta Károlyi. Under their guidance, Retton quickly rose to prominence in the U.S., winning the American Cup in 1983 and clinching a spot on the national stage. Despite a wrist injury that caused her to miss the 1983 World Gymnastics Championships, she continued to shine, winning the American Classic and Japan's Chunichi Cup in 1983 and 1984.

However, her journey faced a significant hurdle when she suffered a knee injury just weeks before the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, where she made a triumphant return, winning the all-around gold medal in a close battle with Ecaterina Szabo of Romania. Retton also secured silver and bronze medals in various events and was named Sports Illustrated Magazine's "Sportswoman of the Year." She became an icon and the first official spokeswoman for Wheaties cereal, retiring from gymnastics in 1986.

In her post-gymnastics career, Retton remained actively engaged in politics, notably aligning herself with the Reagan administration. Her support for President Ronald Reagan was visible through her participation in numerous television ads endorsing his candidacy and her presence at a campaign rally for his reelection in her home state of West Virginia shortly after the 1984 Olympics. Notably, in 2004, Retton, alongside fellow former gymnast and 1996 Olympic gold medalist Kerri Strug, played a prominent role by leading the Pledge of Allegiance on the second night of the Republican National Convention, highlighting her enduring political involvement.

Mary Lou Retton made notable appearances in film and TV, including hosting the physical fitness segments on "ABC Funfit" in 1985. She appeared as herself in the movie "Scrooged" in 1988 and in an episode of "Knots Landing" titled "Letting Go" in 1992. Her TV roles continued with a cameo in "Baywatch" in the episode "The Child Inside" (1993), and as herself in "An Evening at the Improv" (1994) and "Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult" (1994). She also had her show, "Mary Lou's Flip Flop Shop" (2002), and made an appearance in "Glee" in the episode "Grilled Cheesus" (2010). Furthermore, she had a cameo in the RadioShack Super Bowl XLVIII commercial "The '80s Called" (2014) and participated as a contestant on the 27th season of "Dancing with the Stars" in 2018, partnered with Sasha Farber, ultimately eliminated in Week 6, finishing in 9th place.

Awards, Honors, and Achievements

  • Mary Lou Retton was honored in her hometown of Fairmont, West Virginia, with a road and a park named after her.
  • In 1985, she received the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement, presented by General Chuck Yeager.
  • Mary Lou Retton was elected to the National Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.
  • A 1993 Associated Press sports study ranked her as statistically tied for first place with fellow Olympian Dorothy Hamill as the most popular athlete in America.
  • In 1997, she was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
  • In January 2020, Mary Lou Retton became the first woman to be inducted into the Houston Sports Hall of Fame.

Who is Mary Lou Retton Husband, Shannon Kelley?

Mary Lou Retton, once married, is currently single. She was previously married to her husband, Shannon Kelley, a former football player turned real estate developer employed by the Houston Baptist University athletic department. They exchanged vows in a romantic ceremony in 1990 after getting engaged in 1989. During their marriage, the couple welcomed four daughters into their family: Shayla (born 1995), McKenna (born 1997), Skyla (born 2000), and Emma (born 2002). Notably, McKenna pursued an NCAA gymnastics career at Louisiana State University. Unfortunately, Mary Lou and Shannon divorced in February 2018.

Mary Lou Retton with her ex-husband, Shannon Kelley

Retton found herself back in the public eye during the 2016 USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal. She, along with other members of USA Gymnastics, attempted to dissuade Senator Dianne Feinstein, the bill sponsor, from introducing the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017 to the 115th Congress. Despite their efforts, the bill was signed into law on February 14, 2018, taking effect immediately.

Mary Lou Retton Net Worth In 2023

Mary Lou Retton, the retired American gymnast, has a substantial net worth of $8 million as of 2023, largely attributed to her stellar gymnastic career and successful forays into entertainment and endorsements. Her crowning achievement was winning the gold medal in the individual all-around competition at the 1984 Summer Olympics, propelling her to stardom and resulting in lucrative brand endorsements and roles in television and movies. Currently, she is making an annual salary exceeding $1 million, affording her a lavish lifestyle. Her wealth primarily stems from her gymnastics, entertainment, and endorsement endeavors.

In addition, Retton has been a prominent figure in advertising, featuring in TV commercials for brands such as Wheaties Cereal, Dairy Queen, Australian Dream arthritis and joint pain relief cream, Lipton Sizzle ‘n Stir, Sprint PCS, ReMax Realtors (in support of the Children’s Miracle Network through a public service advertisement), and others. She has also appeared in print adverts for products like Biomet Manufacturing’s M2a-Magnum hip replacement implant, Mars Candy’s M&M chocolates, and Depend Silhouette briefs. Furthermore, she lent her voice to radio advertisements for Biomet Manufacturing’s M2a-Magnum hip replacement implant and served as a brand ambassador for brands like the US drugstore chain Revco and Wheaties. Additionally, she has leveraged her Instagram presence to promote brands like Nature’s Bounty.

Mary Lou Retton Height: How tall is she?

Mary Lou Retton is a beautiful woman with a compact and athletic body type. Standing at an average height of 4 feet 9 inches (1.45 meters) and weighing 92.5 pounds (42 kilograms), her petite stature sets her apart. She possesses captivating dark brown eyes and complements them with her matching dark brown hair. Her distinctive feature is undoubtedly her short height, which adds to her unique charm and appeal. On October 10, 2023, her daughter, McKenna, revealed on social media that she was critically ill with a rare form of pneumonia. 

After enduring rigorous training during her professional career, Retton now opts for low-impact workouts in her retirement, including morning laps in the pool, cycling, and long walks. She doesn't adhere to strict diets but follows an 80-20 principle, with 80% of her daily diet being healthy, while the remaining 20% includes her indulgences. Her daily routine typically begins with a nutritious breakfast of egg whites on toast, accompanied by a cup of coffee.

Olympic star Mary Lou Retton 'fighting for her life' in ICU, daughter says

Olympic gymnastics champion Mary Lou Retton is currently battling a severe health condition in the intensive care unit, as confirmed by her daughter, McKenna Kelley. Retton has been diagnosed with an exceptionally rare form of pneumonia and has been in the ICU at an undisclosed hospital for over a week, unable to breathe independently. While respecting her privacy, Kelley revealed that her mother lacks medical insurance and initiated a fundraising campaign to help with the substantial hospital bills. She urged people to offer their prayers and support to assist her family during this challenging time.

Facts About Mary Lou Retton

Her inspiration derived from watching the Olympic games on TV

Her inspiration sprouted from early experiences of watching the Olympic Games on TV. From a young age, Retton was drawn to sports broadcasts, where she witnessed Olga Korbut's captivating performance in the 1972 Olympics for the Soviet Union, resonating with her display of courage and determination. Then, just four years later, the Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci became the focus of her attention, kindling dreams within her of achieving Olympic gold.

She won gold medals at age 16

At the age of 16, Retton achieved a remarkable feat. Despite encountering a knee injury that required surgery just five weeks before the 1984 Summer Olympics, she went on to make history. During the Olympics, not only did she secure a gold medal but also added two silver and two bronze medals to her collection. Her exceptional performance, marked by perfect scores in the floor exercise and vault, made her the first female American athlete to win a gold medal in the all-around event at the Olympic Games. This groundbreaking achievement catapulted her to widespread popularity, establishing her as one of the most celebrated athletes in the United States.

She retired early at the age of 18

Mary Lou Retton made the decision to retire early, calling it a day at just 18 years old. Following her remarkable success at the Olympics, she continued to participate in a few competitions and excelled, but she ultimately chose to retire on a high note, wanting to be remembered as a victorious athlete rather than as an aging one facing challenges in the sport. Post-retirement, she transitioned into a career as a motivational speaker and a television commentator, further showcasing her talents and sharing her insights beyond the gymnastics arena.

Retton was a member of the Nationa Council

Mary Lou Retton served as a member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in 2004, an American government organization dedicated to promoting and encouraging physical activity and sports participation across all age groups. This council operates under the Office of Public Health and Science, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. However, when the 'Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017' was introduced to Congress, she and fellow members of USA Gymnastics tried unsuccessfully to persuade the bill's sponsor to withdraw it. Ultimately, the bill was signed into law, taking immediate effect.

She had appeared in the Dancing with the Stars

Retton participated as a contestant on the 27th season of Dancing with the Stars, where she teamed up with Sasha Farber. Their journey on the show came to an end in Week 6 when they were eliminated, finishing in 9th place. In addition to her Dancing with the Stars appearance, Retton has made appearances in various other shows, including Knots Landing, Baywatch, An Evening at the Improv, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, and Glee, among others, showcasing her versatility in the world of entertainment.