Poolside with Esther Williams

Posted by Christina Stewart June 4, 2014 0 Comment 13946 views

It’s June 1st as I write this, and in my book that means SUMMER! What better way to spend our time lounging in the sun than with Esther Williams? She is our ultimate Bathing Beauty and we owe her a great deal of admiration for being a strong beautiful sportswoman who showed us that being feminine in a swimsuit rather than sexy was okay. Her line of swimwear is still extremely popular, mostly because of the flattering designs and fit, but also because of how beautiful they make us feel.

Still image from "Esther Williams"

Cute Esther Williams, ca. 1942

Still image from "Esther Williams"

Esther Williams, ca. 1945

Williams was a champion swimmer, even starring in the Billy Rose Aquacade at the Golden Gate  International Exposition with none other than Tarzan himself Johnny Weissmuller, before staring her career at MGM in 1942. She became know as the Million Dollar Mermaid, even using the her nickname as the title her autobiography, after staring in such Technicolor aqua-musicals as Bathing Beauty (1944), On an Island with You (1948), Neptune’s Daughter (1949), Million Dollar Mermaid (1952), Dangerous When Wet (1953), and Jupiter’s Darling (1955).

Still image from "Esther Williams"

In costume for “Neptune’s Daughter” 1949

Still image from "Esther Williams"

“Million Dollar Mermaid” 1952

Williams portrayed independent women and did all her own stunts in her films. With each successful film her dives got higher and the stunts got more demanding, if not dangerous. While filming Million Dollar Mermaid she broke her neck performing an over 100ft dive, ending up in a full body cast for seven months. She worked very closely with her studio costume designers to come up with swimsuits that would perform and look as beautiful as she did for her films. Unfortunately, during her early films her suits would often become so heavy in the water that they would drag her down to the bottom of pools, so in 1949 Williams became the spokeswoman for Cole of California a swimsuit maker. She and her supporting swimmers would go on to wear their suits for all their subsequent aqua-musical films until the end of her MGM career in 1955. You can see the inside of the Cole’s textile mill in action in a sequence during Neptune’s Daughter.  So next time you’re poolside dawn your best red lipstick, retro sunglasses, and Esther Williams swimsuit. You’ll be glad you did!

Still image from "Esther Williams"

Esther Williams ad for Coles of California swimsuits, 1949

Still image from "Esther Williams"

Poolside with Esther Williams!

About Christina Stewart

A film archivist by day and a film buff by night. What more needs to be said?

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