Esther Williams

Actor, Swimmer, Singer
Like Johnny Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe before her, Esther Williams achieved the seemingly impossible by transforming her skill at competitive swimming into a popular movie career. A star athlete and Olympic hopeful ... Read more »
Born: 08/07/1921 in Inglewood, California, USA

Filmography

Actor (30)

That's Entertainment! III 1994 (Movie)

Host (Actor)

MGM: When the Lion Roars 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Stars and Stripes: Hollywood and World War II 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

The 48th Annual Golden Globe Awards 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

The Thalians 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

The Big Show 1961 (Movie)

Hillary Allen (Actor)

The Lux Video Theater 1950 - 1960 (TV Show)

Actor

Jupiter's Darling 1955 (Movie)

Amytis (Actor)

Dangerous When Wet 1953 (Movie)

Katy (Actor)

Easy to Love 1953 (Movie)

Julie Hallerton (Actor)

Million Dollar Mermaid 1952 (Movie)

Annette Kellerman (Actor)

Texas Carnival 1951 (Movie)

(Actor)

A Guy Named Joe (Movie)

Ellen Bright (Actor)

Andy Hardy's Double Life (Movie)

Sheila Brooks (Actor)

Bathing Beauty (Movie)

Caroline Brooks (Actor)

Easy to Wed (Movie)

Connie Allenbury (Actor)

Fiesta (Movie)

Maria Morales (Actor)

Glorious Technicolor (TV Show)

Actor

Neptune's Daughter (Movie)

Eve Barrett (Actor)

On an Island with You (Movie)

Rosalind Reynolds (Actor)

Pagan Love Song (Movie)

Mimi Bennett (Actor)

Skirts Ahoy! (Movie)

Whitney Young (Actor)

Take Me Out to the Ball Game (Movie)

K.C. Higgins (Actor)

The Hoodlum Saint (Movie)

May Lorrison (Actor)

This Time for Keeps (Movie)

Nora Cambaretta (Actor)

Thrill of a Romance (Movie)

Cynthia Glenn (Actor)

Ziegfeld Follies (Movie)

Guest (Actor)

Biography

Like Johnny Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe before her, Esther Williams achieved the seemingly impossible by transforming her skill at competitive swimming into a popular movie career. A star athlete and Olympic hopeful in her teens, she gained her earliest exposure to show business as the female lead in showman Billy Rose's Aquacade. Executives at MGM who saw her swimming abilities and pin-up worthy looks signed her immediately to a contract with the studio. There she starred in a series of musicals built around Williams' extraordinarily graceful water ballets. Audiences ate up the ultra-lightweight fare, making her one of the most popular movie stars of the 1940s and 1950s, though her career declined whenever she decided to pursue roles on dry land. After retiring in the early sixties, she parlayed her association with all things aquatic into lucrative licensing deals for ladies' swimwear and swimming pools. Due to these savvy decisions, she enjoyed her later decades out of spotlight and lived to be 91, with her physically fit background likely contributing to her longevity.

Relationships

Edward Bell Actor

Husband
Met during 1984 Summer Olympics Married Oct. 24, 1994

Jeff Chandler Actor

Companion
Romantically involved in late 1950s Worked together on "Raw Wind in Eden" (1958) No longer together; in her autobiography, Williams claimed Chandler was a cross-dresser

Ben Gage Actor

Husband
Married Nov. 25, 1945 Divorced April 20, 1959

Susan Gage

Daughter
Born Oct. 1, 1953; father, Ben Gage

Benjamin Gage

Son
Born Aug. 6, 1949; father, Ben Gage

Kimball Gage

Son
Born Oct. 30, 1950; father, Ben Gage Died May 6, 2008

Leonard Kovner

Husband
Met when he was a pre-med student at USC Married June 27, 1940 Divorced 1944

Lorenzo Lamas Actor

Step-Son
Born Jan. 20, 1958 to Fernando Lamas and Arlene Dahl best known for his role as Lance on the long-running primetime soap opera, "Falcon Crest"

Fernando Lamas Actor

Husband
Married in two separate ceremonies, a civil ceremony in Europe (some sources said 1963, others 1967) and one at Founders' Church of Religious Science near Hollywood, CA Dec. 31, 1969; married until his death Oct. 8, 1982

Alejandre Lamas

Step-Daughter

Lou Williams

Father

Bula Williams

Mother
Member of Ingelwood Board of Education; helped raise funds for neighborhood school's swimming pool

Maureen Williams

Sister

EDUCATION

Los Angeles City College

Los Angeles , California
left to pursue acting

Milestones

1994

Was one of the hosts of the musical compilation documentary "That's Entertainment III"

1961

Made one-shot return to films to play a leading role in "The Big Show"

1958

Last film for three years, "Raw Wind in Eden"

1957

Made TV debut in "Lux Video Theatre's The Armed Venus"

1955

Ended MGM contract (date approximate)

1955

Last major aqua-musical, "Jupiter's Darling"

1949

Twice made the annual exhibitors' poll of top ten boxoffice stars; placed eighth both years

1941

First came to attention in her first swimming film, "Bathing Beauty"

1941

Film acting debut in "Andy Hardy's Double Life"

1940

Signed MGM contract

Won several local swimming championships; after earning the Pacific Coast Championship was signed for the 1940 Olympics (which were ultimately cancelled when WWII began)

Left college and worked as stock clerk and part-time model at I Magin store

Retired from the industry in the early 1960s

Impressario Billy Rose co-starred her with Johnny Weissmuller in his San Francisco Aquacade; quit to marry first husband

Bonus Trivia

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"Esther Williams was to MGM what Sonja Henie had been to Twentieth Century-Fox--an athletically talented woman who for a virtual decade brought countless filmgoers to theatres. With her ... apple-pie-on-water escapist motion pictures, she racked up some $80 million at the boxoffice between 1944 and 1955."

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"Wet she was a star." --Hollywood producer Joe Pasternak

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"All they ever did for me at MGM was change my leading men and the water in my swimming pool." --Williams, quoted in "Halliwell's Filmgoer's Companion"

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She was named to the Swimming Pool Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1967.

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