Esther Williams dies: 'Million Dollar Mermaid' star was 91
Esther Williams, a former MGM movie star and swimming champion once dubbed "America's Mermaid," has died at age 91.
The actress passed away peacefully in her sleep in Beverly Hills, California on Thursday, June 6, her family's spokesperson said in a statement obtained by OTRC.com.
She is survived by her fourth husband of some 19 years, Edward, a son and daughter, three grandchildren, three step-children and eight step-grandchildren. Memorial services have yet to be announced and her family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to The International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Check out 5 facts about Ester Williams.
1. She got her first job at age 8 -- she counted towels at a pool her mother had campaigned to be built in the Los Angeles neighborhood in Inglewood. She was "paid" one hour of swimming for each 100 towels counted.
2. She was a swimming champion by the time she was 14 and was made part of the U.S. Olympic team in 1940, after the beginning of World War II, but was unable to compete because the games were canceled due to security concerns.
3. She went on to become an actress and made her film debut in 1942 in "Andy Hardy's Double Life," alongside co-star Mickey Rooney. She gave him his first on-screen kiss underwater. She appeared in 25 of MGM's "aqua-musicals," including "Bathing Beauty," "Neptune's Daughter," "Million Dollar Mermaid" and "Dangerous When Wet" in the 1940s and 1950s.
4. The trim star wasn't into dieting.
"That's not my style," the actress, then 75, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1997. "I look at what happens to women's faces when they keep themselves so bone-thin and then they look old and tired, and they're constantly having things done to their face until they don't even look like themselves anymore. And with men, it's the strangest thing -- you look at a man sitting next to you at a big fundraiser and, my God, he erased his face."
5. She designed her own swimwear.
You can check out her retro-style swimsuits on here website.
"I can't remember a time when I wasn't in a swimsuit," she said in a message posted on her website. "There were all those hours and weeks and years of competitive swimming-and magic movie swimming."