Esther Jane Williams, America’s Mermaid August 8, 1921 – June 6, 2013
She was a beauty, and a sweetheart and a serious athlete deprived of a chance to win an Olympic swimming medal when the 1940 Games were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II. Kismet. Instead, she became America’s Movie-Star Mermaid, even more beautiful underwater than above.
If you’re not familiar with her films and exquisite, athletic, balletic performances, you’re missing out. Here, in tribute to the beautiful mermaid many a Baby Boom-generation female grew up wanting to be:
- Video Clips of Films & Appearances
- Photo Gallery
- Obituaries & Tributes
Esther Williams — Films & Appearances
• From Ziegfeld Follies (MGM, 1945). Esther underwater in a white suit, fluttering and twirling, fluid and weightless.
• From Million Dollar Mermaid (MGM, 1952). Esther performs a short underwater ballet in white tutu and spangled suit, then slips into a giant clamshell in which she almost got stuck.
• From Jupiter’s Darling (MGM, 1955). Esther in a longer, Cocteau-like underwater ballet choreographed by Hermes Pan.
• From Easy to Love (MGM, 1953). Esther shows her athletic prowess in a water-skiing segment filmed at Cyprus Gardens in Winter Park, Florida.
• From Million Dollar Mermaid (MGM, 1952). An over-the-top extravaganza choreographed by Busby Berkeley.
• From That’s Entertainment (Warner Bros, 1974). A Donald O’Conner tribute with footage from various films, including a high dive Esther performed for Million Dollar Mermaid that broke her neck and put her in a body cast.
• Esther Williams, Princess Mermaid (Poetic Justice 2345). A short compilation featuring some of Esther’s loveliest underwater moments.
• Esther Models Bathing Suits — Underwater (Hollywood USA, 1951)
• Esther Performs with Milton Berle and Arnold Stang on the Deck of the USS Hancock (San Diego, 4/3/1956). What a game performer, wet or dry!
• “Larry King Live” (September, 1999). Esther, now 77, talks about how she was discovered and the huge star who kissed her many times during her screen test.
• “Good Morning America” (November, 2007). Diane Sawyer interviews and gets in the pool with her childhood hero, now 86 and remarkably recovered from a stroke.
Esther Williams — Photo Gallery
Esther Williams — Obituaries & Tributes
• Read The New York Times obituary here. View The New York Times slideshow here.
• View the CBS News slideshow here.
• Read the USA Today obituary here.
• Read The Hollywood Reporter obituary here.
• Read The Guardian obituary here.
• Read an online Esther Williams biography here.
• Read juicy excerpts from her 1999 autobiography, The Million Dollar Mermaid, here. Buy the book here.
Gini, Thank you for Forever Esther…I especially loved the Diane Sawyer interview with her from 2007. Not only was it a last look at Esther but I’ve never seen Diane Sawyer as charming and revealing as she was with her idol. Thanks again, Eileen
Thanks for your response, Eileen!
She was beautiful. What fun to watch.