Esther Williams Dies at 91

Esther Williams, the competitive swimmer who became a famous actress in the 1940s and 1950s, died Thursday in California. Longtime publicist Harlan Boll announced she’d died in her sleep. She was 91.

esther-williams_death_300During her heyday, Williams was one of Hollywood’s biggest moneymakers, appearing in spectacular musicals that featured her wholesome beauty, stunning figure and, of course, her swimming abilities. Williams’ co-stars included the biggest names on MGM’s contract list, including Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Red Skelton, Ricardo Montalban and Howard Keel. As USA Today noted, her movies followed a specific formula:  “romance, music, a bit of comedy and a flimsy plot that provided excuses to get Esther into the water.”

When big movie musicals went out of vogue in the mid-1950s, Williams tried her hand at some legit acting (a.k.a. non-swimming roles). Sadly, they didn’t prove successful. She eventually retired from acting in 1962, devoting herself to her husband, actor Fernando Lamas, who was Williams’ co-star in Dangerous When Wet.

To get more history on Williams’ life, visit CNN and USA Today. And check out this short bio from That’s Entertainment.