3 items from 2013
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 By the early ’50s, Louis B. Mayer had been ousted from the studio he had helped to found, having been replaced by Dore Schary.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 swimming champion turned actress who starred in glittering and aquatic Technicolor musicals of the 1940s and 1950s, has died. She was 91.
Williams died early Thursday in her sleep, according to her longtime publicist Harlan Boll.
Following in the footsteps of Sonja Henie, who went from skating champion to movie star, Williams became one of Hollywood’s biggest moneymakers, appearing in spectacular swimsuit numbers that capitalized on her wholesome beauty and perfect figure.
The extravaganzas dazzled a second generation via television and the compilation films That’s Entertainment. Williams’ co-stars included the pick of the MGM contract list, including Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Red Skelton, Ricardo Montalban and Howard Keel.
When hard times signaled the end of big studios and costly musicals in the mid-’50s, Williams tried non-swimming roles with little success. After her 1962 marriage to Fernando Lamas, her co-star in Dangerous When Wet, she retired from public life. »
- Associated Press
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
3 items from 2013
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