Esther Williams: A Swimming Pin-Up

“Somehow I kept my head above water. I relied on the discipline, character, and strength that I had started to develop as that little girl in her first swimming pool.” ~Esther Williams

Esther Williams is the embodiment of the summer lifestyle we might all hope to have… The timelessness of the swimsuits that she wore (can we bring back those prints and styles to mainstream?) and she kept a glamorous elegance poolside and in the pool! It’s because of Esther that we have waterproof makeup. Her Hollywood career in the water prompted the idea for this. Esther Williams was born August 8, 1921 in Inglewood, California.

The glamorous bathing beauty was a competitive swimmer and actress. In the 1940s and 1950s, she made a series of films called “aquamusicals,” which were “elaborate performances of synchronized swimming and diving.” Ms. Williams was also a skilled business woman, she invested in a portfolio of diverse investments – ranging from a swimwear line, to a restaurant chain, to a service station, to a metals products plant. She was dubbed the “Million Dollar Mermaid,” and was featured in at least one of the 20 highest grossing films between the years of 1945 – 1949. Esther was on the pulse of what works across a range of industries, and in my opinion, her style and taste, still works. She caught the eye of MGM Studios talent scouts while working as a model in a department store. MGM created a movie star swimming Venus with good reason. I think her joyful personality also played a big role in her success.

Esther served as a commentator for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Esther would have competed in the 1940 Summer Olympics had there not been the outbreak of World War II… I am most in awe of the ability to reinvent herself through this adversity. Clearly, Esther was a talented, energetic, and motivated young woman for a time that preferred to hold women back from achieving all of their dreams. Esther also had an active personal life, she married four times and had three children across her marriages.

I hope that Esther’s story inspires and reminds you to aspire to overcome any barriers of the time you are in and to recognize the good that so many women have been able to achieve throughout history. Esther Williams was much more than a bathing beauty alone; she was a skilled business woman, talented actress, and kept an athletic mindset throughout her career and life! She passed away at the age of 91 of natural causes in Los Angeles. Her ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean. Esther Williams clearly lived a fascinating life, and perhaps we can all learn a thing or two from the Million Dollar Mermaid.

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