Linda Benson, a surfer from the late 1950s and ’60s was the first woman to have a signature skateboard when Hansen Surfboards designed the “Linda Benson Model” in 1964.
Benson explains in Skater Girl, “We were riding 2x4s cut about 22 to 24 inches long with the metal skates nailed on. Don Hansen decided to make a Linda Benson and a LJ Richards model, shaped like a surfboard with our names stenciled on the tail block. The wheels were the best made at the time, a roller-rink type that we screwed on by hand in the back room of Hansen’s Surfboards old shop in Cardiff. Bagged in plastic, I packed them up and went on a road trip up the coast all the way to Santa Monica, stopping at hardware stores, Pep Boys, etc.”
Benson went to hardware stores because there were no sporting-goods stores at the time. “I would walk into the store and show the new product and give a demonstration out on the sidewalk. Most people were amused, and I sold quite a few. Art Linkletter’s House Party, a popular daytime variety show invited us up to Hollywood to demonstrate the skateboard in CBS’s parking-lot. It was the start.”
Born in 1944, Benson was not simply “a surfer,” she was the first woman to win the first-ever National surfing contest in the US in 1959 held at Huntington Beach. Benson was only 15-years-old, and had been surfing for four years. That same year, she entered and won the International Surfing Contest at Makaha as the youngest competitor, and she is also credited with being the first woman to surf the big waves of Waimea Bay.
From 1959 to 1969, Benson won over twenty first-place surfing titles and was recruited to act as a surfing double for Annette Funicello in the “Beach Party” films, and as Deborah Walley in Gidget Goes Hawaiian, alongside surfing films by Bud Browne and John Severson. Her list of firsts continue, and she was included in the first Surfer Magazine in 1960, and was the first woman to take the cover of a surfing magazine, Surf Guide in 1963.
With her passion for surfing, Benson was a natural skateboarder.
- Brooke, Michael. Skate Legends (Toronto, Warwick Publishing, 2002), p. 22.
- Sakamoto, Glenn. “Linda Benson.” Liquid Salt. 2010.
- Segovia, Patty and Rebecca Heller. Skater Girl: a girl’s guide to skateboarding (Berkeley, Ulysses Press, 2007), p. 117.