Esther Williams Biography

Esther Williams was a swimming champ who became a movie star in the 1940s, known especially for her "aqua musicals," a string of box office hits that featured her (and her bathing suit) in elaborate synchronized swimming  spectacles -- regardless of the movie's storyline. She grew up in Los Angeles and was a teenage national champ in swimming. Although she qualified for the 1940 Olympics, that event didn't happen, thanks to World War II. Instead, Williams was hired on as a feature for the 1940 World's Fair in San Francisco, where she was spotted by a talent scout for MGM Studios. She made her film debut in the 1942 Mickey Rooney movie Andy Hardy Steps Out; MGM groomed her to be a box office star, and she was, for the odd niche market of movies built around big swimming scenes. She co-starred with Fernando Lamas in 1953's Dangerous When Wet; she was married to him until his death in 1982. Williams tried a few non-swimming roles, but retired from the movies in 1961, then spent the rest of her career endorsing swimwear and raising children. Her films include Bathing Beauty (1944), Ziegfield Follies (1946), Neptune's Daughter (1949), Million Dollar Mermaid (1952) and The Big Show (1961).

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Esther Williams was step-mother to actor Lorenzo Lamas (of Falcon Crest fame); Lorenzo's biological mother is actress Arlene Dahl.

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