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Esther Williams Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (4)  | Trade Mark (1)  | Trivia (41)  | Personal Quotes (13)  | Salary (2)

Overview (5)

Born in Inglewood, California, USA
Died in Beverly Hills, California, USA
Birth NameEsther Jane Williams
Nickname America's Mermaid
Height 5' 8½" (1.74 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Esther Jane Williams was born on August 8, 1921 in Inglewood, California. Her youth was spent as a teenage swimming champion and she won three United States National championships. She eventually was spotted by a MGM talent scout while working in a Los Angeles department store. She made her film debut with MGM in an "Andy Hardy" picture called Andy Hardy's Double Life (1942). She became Mickey Rooney's love interest in the movie, and her character was called Sheila Brooks. Following this short movie, stardom was not far away. MGM created a special subgenre for her known as "Aqua Musicals". Her first swimming role was in Bathing Beauty (1944). Bathing Beauty was a simple movie compared to her later big splashes such as Million Dollar Mermaid (1952), co-starring Victor Mature and Walter Pidgeon. Esther Williams was often called "America's Mermaid", as it appeared that she could stay underwater forever!

Following the decline of the once lucrative MGM aqua musical, she attempted dramatic roles. The Unguarded Moment (1956), is one example of this new found dramatic confidence. It co-starred George Nader and John Saxon. Also, The Big Show (1961), co-starring Cliff Robertson and Robert Vaughn was another dramatic role. Overall, Esther's acting skills were limited and, as a musical star in the audiences eyes, she was unsuccessful. She retired from the movie industry in the 1960s, returning as a star guest in That's Entertainment! III (1994) discussing her appearance in MGM films. She certainly is recognized today for bringing enjoyment, escapism and entertainment on the big screen and has also a highly successful business in swimwear. Occasional television work discussing her contribution to the film industry is a treat for her fans from time to time.

Esther Williams died at age 91 in her sleep on June 6, 2013 in her home in Los Angeles, California.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Bobby G

Spouse (4)

Edward Bell (24 October 1994 - 6 June 2013) ( her death)
Fernando Lamas (31 December 1969 - 8 October 1982) ( his death)
Ben Gage (25 November 1945 - 20 April 1959) ( divorced) ( 3 children)
Dr. Leonard Lee Kovner (27 June 1940 - 19 September 1944) ( divorced)

Trade Mark (1)

Being an acclaimed swimming champion, her films usually had elaborate dance sequences involving swimming.

Trivia (41)

Excerpts from her 1999 autobiography in major American magazines revealed that her one-time lover, actor Jeff Chandler, was obsessed about dressing in women's clothing. Williams' revelations about Chandler angered many readers. The book also revealed Williams took LSD under a doctor's supervision, after Cary Grant recommended it.
Younger sister of Stanton Williams.
In the 1950s, she was known as "America's Mermaid".
Filed a lawsuit against MGM for use of some footage in That's Entertainment! (1974).
Her movie career played a major role in the promotion of competitive and synchronized swimming, which she is credited with popularizing.
In 2003 she co-produced Aquaria, a Las Vegas water spectacle.
A mother of three children, two sons and one daughter. Benjamin Stanton "Ben" Gage was born on August 6, 1949. Second son, Kimball was born on October 30, 1950. And only daughter, Susan Tenney "Susie" Gage was born on October 1, 1953.
Met fourth and last husband, Edward Bell, at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
She lent her name to a brand of swimming pools that are still sold today, Esther Williams Pools.
Before her stint in MGM musicals, she had been training as a competitive swimmer, and probably would've participated in the 1940 and/or 1944 Olympics (she would've been 18 and 22 years old respectively) if they hadn't been canceled because of World War II.
Her first job was at age eight at a local (Inglewood, CA) neighborhood school's swimming pool counting towels.
She and teammate Virginia Hopkins were to take part in the 1940 Olympics, which was canceled due to World War II.
Met first husband Leonard Kovner while a student at the University of Southern California. He was a premed student.
Received her first screen kiss by Mickey Rooney in Andy Hardy's Double Life (1942).
Was inducted into the Swimming Pool Hall of Fame in 1967.
Second husband was singer/actor Ben Gage, a "Big Band" vocalist who dubbed Victor Mature, George Montgomery, Dana Andrews and Cornel Wilde in various musical films. They had three children.
Born in Los Angeles, Esther was the youngest of five children. Her family had come to Los Angeles from Salt Lake City, where her older brother Stanton Williams was "discovered" by actress Marjorie Rambeau and brought to Hollywood for films. Stanton, who was born in Salt Lake City, died suddenly at age 16 when he developed intestinal blockage and his colon burst.
Youngest of five children. The others were Stanton, June, Maurine and David.
She was offered roles in both The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and The Towering Inferno (1974) by Irwin Allen. She turned down both.
In Italy, all her films were dubbed by Dhia Cristiani, except Raw Wind in Eden (1958) where the talented Andreina Pagnani lent her voice to Williams.
Grandstepmother of Shayne Lamas and A.J. Lamas.
Stepmother of Lorenzo Lamas.
Her son Kimball Austin died at age 57 in May 2008.
Three stepchildren, from Lamas: Cristina, Alexandra "Alex" and Lorenzo.
Her son, Kim, was injured in a motorcycle accident. Both of his legs were shattered and he had to relearn how to walk.
She had two grandchildren, Austin and Erin, from her son Ben. She has a grandson, Thomas, from her daughter Susie.
Was the national champion in the 100-meter freestyle and was a favorite to make the 1940 Olympic team. Unfortunately, she missed her opportunity due to the outbreak of World War II.
An advisor to the International Olympic Committee at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles for the new sport of Synchronized Swimming.
She was a member of the Unity Church.
She was a strong supporter of the Republican party. She appeared with Virginia Mayo at the 1953 Republican Rally and in past presidential elections she endorsed Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney.
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1560 Vine St. on February 8, 1960.
Once worked as a stock girl for I. Magnin in Los Angeles.
MGM's Louis B. Mayer claims he pursued Esther as an answer to 20th Century-Fox's box-office ice-skating film star Sonja Henie. Esther won her contract after making a screen test with Clark Gable.
Inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame, as a contributor, in 1966.
Esther was the youngest of five children. Claiming that her oldest sister, Maurine, was more of a mother to her while growing up, it was Maurine who became her first swimming coach. Esther later stated that her mother, Bula, tried "to get rid of me" while pregnant by purposefully going horseback riding and by once jumping off a chest of drawers.
Aquatic filming had its dangers according to Esther. She once broke three neck vertebrae in a dive; suffered several broken eardrums over the years; nearly drowned once when she couldn't find an underwater trapdoor exit; was almost mutilated by an out-of-control outrigger; and was nearly overcome by waves created by a camera boat that came within inches of her water skis while shooting (pregnant) a scene in Cypress Gardens, Florida.
Looking back, Esther claimed that the water was her favorite co-star. When she discovered her talent in swimming, she practiced dutifully in the ocean to gather strength and eventually won a spot on the prestigious Los Angeles Athletic Club swim team. She started gaining notice after appearing in aquatic revues, occasionally opposite such swimming notables as actor and Olympic swimming champion Johnny Weissmuller.
Upon her death, she was cremated and her ashes scattered at sea in the Pacific Ocean.
Stated that her favorite film was Ziegfeld Girl (1941).
Miscarried what would have been her first child with second husband Ben Gage in September 1946 at four months pregnant.
Her hobbies included cooking, singing, dining, fishing, traveling, spending time with her family, sailing, reading, petting animals, dancing and of course, swimming.

Personal Quotes (13)

I was called America's mermaid, because it appeared that I could stay underwater indefinitely.
All they ever did for me at MGM was change my leading man and the water in my pool.
No one had ever done a swimming movie before so we just made it up as we went along. I ad-libbed all my own underwater movements.
I don't know to this day how I managed to fit into those bathing suits when I was pregnant, but I did.
The popular "Andy Hardy" series movies were MGM's tests for its promising stars such as Judy Garland, Lana Turner and Donna Reed. If you didn't make it in those pictures, you were never heard from again.
[International Swimming Hall of Fame] If swimming would make his daughter grow up to look like Esther Williams, then father was willing to pay for the lessons.
[in 2003] I was just a swimmer who got lucky.
MGM made money off me, but they never understood the art form. Not until the fifth picture did I even get a choreographer.
When I first started swimming, not many girls participated in the sport. They either didn't want to get their hair wet or wanted to go out on Friday nights instead of going to a meet. But as a result of the popularity of the water ballet, pretty girls began to swim.
I've been a lucky lady. I've had three exciting careers. Before films I had the experience of competitive swimming, with the incredible fun of winning. I had a movie career with all the glamour that goes with it. That was ego-fulfilling, but it was like the meringue on the pie. My marriage with [Fernando Lamas--that was the filling, that was the apple in the pie.
[on her marriage to Fernando Lamas] A really terrific guy comes along and says, "I wish you'd stay at home and be my wife", and that's the most logical thing in the world for a Latin. And I loved being a Latin wife--you get treated very well.
[as a young player to MGM boss Louis B. Mayer, who had scolded her] Mr. Mayer, please don't yell at me. You can make movies, but you can't get to the end of the pool first. So you can't yell at me 'til you can.
[about director Busby Berkeley, who set up a dangerous shot for her while filming Easy to Love (1953) at Cypress Gardens, FL] My life was of no importance to him at all. The shot was the thing.

Salary (2)

The Unguarded Moment (1956) $200,000
Raw Wind in Eden (1958) $250,000

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