Thursday, June 6, 2013

In Memory: Esther Williams, Swimming Champion Who Became a Movie Star, Dies at 91.

Esther Williams (August 8, 1921 – June 6, 2013), was an competitive swimmer and MGM movie actress. Williams set multiple national and regional swimming records in her late teens as part of the Los Angeles Athletic Club swim team.

Unable to compete in the 1940 Summer Olympics because of the outbreak of  World War II, she joined Billy Rose's Aquacade. It was at the Aquacade that Williams caught the attention of MGM scouts. Williams made films in the 1940's and early 1950's known as "aqua-musicals".

In 1952, Williams performing in her only biographical role, as Australian swimming star Annette Kellerman in "Million Dollar Mermaid", which would go on to become her nickname.

Following her retirement from film in the 1960's, Williams became a businesswoman, and lent her name to a line of swimming pools and swimwear, instructional swimming videos for children and serving as a commentator for synchronized swimming at the 1984 Summer Olympics.

She is survived by Mr. Bell, a son, Benjamin Gage, a daughter, Susan Beardslee, three stepsons, the actor Lorenzo Lamas, Tima Alexander Bell and Anthony Bell, three grandchildren and eight step-grandchildren. 

Asked once who her favorite leading man was, Ms. Williams said... “The water.”

In the water she was graceful and as an actress she could hold her own with actors: Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Betty Garrett. Her films were always fun to watch and could brighten anyone's day..

Video: Newsreel..

Video: Esther's movie clips.


  1. Ha ha - her favourite leading man was the water!

    Sad to hear this news. I always liked her - she really was terrific on screen.

  2. She was one of my favorite actress..

  3. This was a lovely tribute to a star that I liked very much as well.

    I bought her autobiography a few months ago and I plan to find the time to read it soon. She was such a beauty and her unique talents in the water made her films not only special but ones that kept you on the edge of your seat at times with her amazing water tricks and routines.

    Oh, when sending a mass email to all of our CMBA members yesterday, your email came back undeliverable. Going to check it again today and see if the CMBA list has it correctly. Did you get an email on the new CMBA voting recently? If not I'll get it forwarded to your correct email addy.

    Have a great weekend, Dawn! : )

  4. I have not yet read Esther Williams autobiography. Please let me know what you think of it when you get a chance.

    No, that is weird. I have not gotten anything from CMBA in a very long time. I was wondering what happened.

  5. I loved Esther's MGM aquatic shows. She really made it to look easy, but it really was not. She was a very talented actress and swimmer. I loved her duet with Ricardo Montalban in Neptune's Daughter (1949) and co-starring with Van Johnson and Tony Martin in Easy to Love (1953). Thank you, Dawn, for this lovely tribute

    1. You mention a couple of my favorite films of Esther's. I'm planning a 5 top favorite Esther films post. I will post it on the day that TCM is planning their 24 hour tribute.

  6. I love Esther! She was as beautiful as she was agile under water. I love her and will always have great respect for that million dollard Mermaid.

    Another great Lady from that Golden Age of Hollywood has left us! Goodbye Mrs. William and thank you for the movie legacy...

    Molly Brown
    The Trade Corner for Ginger Rogers

  7. Thank you for stopping by.. I think she did her own singing too..


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