Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Gaspar Noé's List of 10 Favorite Films Makes Perfect, Terrifying Sense Gaspar Noé's List of 10 Favorite Films Makes Perfect, Terrifying Sense Jon Hamm Wants You to Know There's Hope for Don Draper After 'Mad Men' Jon Hamm Wants You to Know There's Hope for Don Draper After 'Mad Men' Women Fight Back at Cannes, From Megan Ellison to Emily Blunt Women Fight Back at Cannes, From Megan Ellison to Emily Blunt Of Time & Life: How 'Mad Men' Remade Television Of Time & Life: How 'Mad Men' Remade Television Nikki Finke Returns Nikki Finke Returns Cannes Goes Crazy for Jeremy Saulnier's Gruesome Neo-Nazis vs. Punks Horror 'Green Room' Cannes Goes Crazy for Jeremy Saulnier's Gruesome Neo-Nazis vs. Punks Horror 'Green Room' Cannes Festival Is Dominated by Two Hollywood Masters Cannes Festival Is Dominated by Two Hollywood Masters Top Ten Takeaways: Sequels Rule as Women Boost 'Pitch Perfect 2,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Also Strong Top Ten Takeaways: Sequels Rule as Women Boost 'Pitch Perfect 2,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Also Strong Cannes: Directors from Fincher to Scorsese Revisit Truffaut's Famous Interview with Hitchcock Cannes: Directors from Fincher to Scorsese Revisit Truffaut's Famous Interview with Hitchcock 'Pitch Perfect 2' Outperforms 'Mad Max: Fury Road'; 'Ultron' Is Now Top 2015 Release 'Pitch Perfect 2' Outperforms 'Mad Max: Fury Road'; 'Ultron' Is Now Top 2015 Release Kristen Stewart Re-Teams with Her 'Sils Maria' Director for Ghost Story Set in Fashion World Kristen Stewart Re-Teams with Her 'Sils Maria' Director for Ghost Story Set in Fashion World Watch: Netflix's Ted Sarandos Heckled at Cannes, Gets Weinstein on His Feet During Heated Debate (VIDEO) Watch: Netflix's Ted Sarandos Heckled at Cannes, Gets Weinstein on His Feet During Heated Debate (VIDEO) George Miller and DP John Seale Go Inside 'Mad Max: Fury Road': "It Was Like Being in a Video Game" George Miller and DP John Seale Go Inside 'Mad Max: Fury Road': "It Was Like Being in a Video Game" Natalie Portman's Passion Project 'Tale of Love and Darkness' Splits Cannes Critics Natalie Portman's Passion Project 'Tale of Love and Darkness' Splits Cannes Critics Cannes: 'Dogtooth' Director Yorgos Lanthimos Scores with Surreal, Macabre 'The Lobster' (Review and Roundup) Cannes: 'Dogtooth' Director Yorgos Lanthimos Scores with Surreal, Macabre 'The Lobster' (Review and Roundup) Weinstein Co. Offers Strong Slate at Cannes Weinstein Co. Offers Strong Slate at Cannes 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Auteur George Miller Does It His Way, No Matter How Long It Takes 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Auteur George Miller Does It His Way, No Matter How Long It Takes The Top 20 Episodes of 'Mad Men' The Top 20 Episodes of 'Mad Men' How the 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Score Paid Homage to Hitchcock's 'Vertigo' How the 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Score Paid Homage to Hitchcock's 'Vertigo' Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A)

Obit: Swimming Champion and MGM Starlet Esther Williams Dies at 91

Photo of Ryan Lattanzio By Ryan Lattanzio | TOH! June 6, 2013 at 9:21PM

American competitive swimming superstar and Hollywood actress Esther Williams died at age 91 in Beverly Hills on Thursday, reports The New York Times. The announcement was made by Williams' longtime publicist, Harlan Boll.
2
Esther Williams
Esther Williams

American competitive swimming superstar and Hollywood actress Esther Williams died at age 91 in Beverly Hills on Thursday, reports The New York Times. The announcement was made by Williams' longtime publicist, Harlan Boll. 

Though her foremost passion was swimming, she signed a contract with MGM in 1941 when former studio head Louis B. Mayer scouted her out. Beginning in 1942 alongside Mickey Rooney in "Andy Hardy's Double Life," Williams went on to appear in dozens of MGM productions such as the George Sidney musicals "Bathing Beauty" (1944) and "Jupiter's Darling" (1955). Per Williams' request, her contract came with an unlimited guest pass to The Beverly Hills Hotel pool.

Born in 1921 in LA, Esther Williams started setting records while on the Los Angeles Athletic Club swim team in her teens, where she worked for a nickel a day. She used that money to access the pool, where the male lifeguards gave her swimming lessons. That's when she learned to master the previously men-only butterfly technique, which won her a gold medal in 1939 in the Amateur Athletic Union championship's 300-meter relay.

After MGM signed her on -- at the time the studio was going up against 20th Century Fox's leading lady Sonja Henie, a Norwegian ice skater -- lavish Technicolor swimming sequences became her personal crest. NYT writes that these sequences "were often elaborate fantasies created by Busby Berkeley." In "Million Dollar Mermaid" (1952), she appeared in 50,000 gold sequins and a crown.

Williams was married four times and had a son, a daughter and three stepsons. Her surviving spouse is TV actor Edward Bell. Read more about her life and career over at NYT here and watch dazzling clips of her onscreen swimming below and an MGM sizzle reel.

This article is related to: Esther Williams


E-Mail Updates






Festivals on TOH