She was the toast of Hollywood in the 1940s and 50s and swam her way to the top. Esther was a national swimming champion and had won several titles before Hollywood made her an aquatic star. In fact she was responsible for the ‘Aqua Musical’. These were musicals with generally flimsy stories centred around a hotel pool, an idyllic island retreat or on a famous beach. Even The English sea side resorts were not safe. Hollywood hit the jackpot in 1952 by casting Esther as Annette Kellerman, the first woman to swim the English channel. Not only was she a great swimmer but she was also exceptionally beautiful with a figure that was the envy of every woman in America and probably everywhere her films were shown. Her synchronised swimming scenes in films like, ‘Neptune’s Daughter’, ‘Jupiter’s Darling’ and ‘Million Dollar Mermaid’ were stunning but also very dangerous. Esther actually broke her neck during one of the dives in ‘Million Dollar Mermaid’ and had to cut off her affair with her co-star,Victor Mature, while recuperating. She had many very famous co stars including Ricardo Montalban, Howard Keel, Van Johnson, Fernando Lamas, just to name a few. All were required to join her in the pool for a romantic swim scene. She even swam with Tom and Jerry.
Esther actually married Fernando. I would have chosen Ricardo. But that is bye the bye. Anyway before being discovered whilst working in a department store to make ends meet Esther had wanted to compete in the Olympics but couldn’t go due to the outbreak of World War 11. During the 1940’s ,she was instead, assigned to war work touring hospitals as her film career began to soar while other stars sold war bonds. She married four times and died at 91. Well I guess that’s what comes of being fit and fabulous.
We still favour Esther Williams style latex swimsuits today although I don’t know of anyone who can wear it the way she did. Figure hugging swimsuits which supported a woman’s figure and at the same time made her look amazingly slim. In fact ,Esther, personally made sure that all the nurses in the hospitals she toured in the Pacific were equipped with the right swimming attire. It is also largely due to Esther that synchronised swimming became accepted as an Olympic sport and the world is still looking for another one like her . I doubt this will ever happen as she was, pardon the pun, one in a million.