Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Esther Williams: What A Hottie!

Esther Williams' youth was spent as a teenage swimming champion. 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 a 1942 "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 sub-genre 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 TV work discussing her contribution to the film industry is a treat for her fans from time to time.

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.
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.
Co-producing Aquaria, a Las Vegas water spectacle set to open in 2003. [2002]
Measurements: 36-26-36 (as a champion swimmer), 38-27-34 (filming Million Dollar Mermaid (1952)), (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)
Children: Benjamin, Kimball and Susan.
Met fourth 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.
Son Benjamin Stanton "Ben" Gage was born August 6, 1949.
Son Kimball Austin Gage was born October 30, 1950.
Daughter Susan Tenney "Susie" Gage was born October 1, 1953.
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 World War II hadn't canceled them.
Longtime friend of June Allyson.
Her first job was at age 8 at a local Inglewood, California neighborhood school's swimming pool counting towels.
A swimming champion, she was signed for the Olympics, which were to be held in Finland in 1940; the Olympics were canceled by the eruption of WWII.
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 the age of 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.


Anonymous said...

I like very much beautifull Esther Williams since I saw her for the first time, kissing Mickey Rooney underwater in a pool. I followed her carreer and later life. She still is a fantastic woman.

Anonymous said...

And he is right. For me she produced almost the same impression. She was the most desiderable woman for a very long time. I still have a highly appreciation about her.


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