4 items from 2013
Swimmer who found movie fame in a string of MGM musicals
Esther Williams, "Hollywood's Mermaid", who has died aged 91, swam her way through more than a dozen splashy MGM musicals in the 1940s and early 50s. While smiling at the camera, she was able to do a combination of crawl, breast and backstroke, and was forever blowing bubbles under water, seemingly having an inexhaustible supply of air.
Like the starlets Lana Turner, Kathryn Grayson and Donna Reed before her, she started out for MGM in a Hardy Family picture, Andy Hardy's Double Life (1942) – though one that allowed her to swim with Mickey Rooney. After being billed 19th in A Guy Named Joe (1943), she shot to stardom in her third film, Bathing Beauty (1944).
It started out as an average Red Skelton vehicle, first called Mr Co-Ed, then Sing and Swim, but Esther's superb figure and pretty features were heightened by Technicolor »
- Ronald Bergan
Esther Williams: ‘Pools and Smiles’ formula grows stale [See previous post: "Esther Williams: Swimwear MGM Musical Star Dies."] By the early ’50s, Louis B. Mayer had been ousted from the studio he had helped to found, having been replaced by Dore Schary. Whether or not a coincidence, with the exception of Million Dollar Mermaid, the Esther Williams movies of the ’50s — e.g., The Duchess of Idaho, Skirts Ahoy! (stolen by Vivian Blaine in a supporting role), Dangerous When Wet, Easy to Love — lacked the luster of those released in the previous decade, despite more prestigious directors (George Sidney, Charles Walters, Robert Z. Leonard) and the usual co-stars (Van Johnson, Red Skelton, Howard Keel). (Photo: Esther Williams in Million Dollar Mermaid.) Not surprisingly, although MGM’s color musicals would remain in vogue a few more years, Esther Williams and the studio parted ways following George Sidney’s tired-looking Jupiter’s Darling (1956), with Williams and Howard Keel (as Hannibal) fooling around in ancient times. »
- Andre Soares
Esther Williams, the swim champion turned actress who was known for roles in MGM aquatic spectaculars such as “Bathing Beauty” and “Million Dollar Mermaid,” died Thursday in Beverly Hills. She was 91.
Williams died “peacefully in her sleep,” according to family rep Harlan Boll.
Popular in the 1940s and ’50s for her easy, amiable manner and aquatic abilities, Williams was a shrewd businesswoman who made a series of wise investments for the days after her decade or so of fame had ended, lending her name to swimming pools and bathing suits. Except for occasional commentary at swimming events like the Olympics or instructional video tapes, Williams largely retired after the mid-’60s.
But while she was on top, she was one of MGM’s most colorful stars, appearing in hit films including 1945’s “Thrill of Romance” and “Easy to Wed,” two of several outings with co-star Van Johnson. By the late- »
- Richard Natale
The silver screen has long boasted many great beauties, but only one was ever worthy of the title "America's Mermaid." Esther Williams, MGM's great synchronized swimming star and box-office attraction of the '40s and '50s, died. She was 91. The star's publicist Harlan Boll told the Associated Press she died in her sleep Thursday. Relatively removed from the public eye since the publication of her 1999 memoir, The Million Dollar Mermaid, Williams suffered some health setbacks in the past several years. In 2001, she fractured her ankle (which then became infected, necessitating the use of a walker) after a spill down »
- Stephen M. Silverman
4 items from 2013
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