Esther Williams, the swimming champion turned actress who starred in glittering and aquatic Technicolor musicals of the 1940s and 1950s, has died. She was 91. Williams died early Thursday in her sleep, according to her longtime publicist Harlan Boll.
Following in the footsteps of Sonja Henie, who went from skating champion to movie star, Williams became one of Hollywood's biggest moneymakers, appearing in spectacular swimsuit numbers that capitalized on her wholesome beauty and perfect figure.
Such films as "Easy to Wed," `'Neptune's Daughter" and "Dangerous When Wet" followed the same formula: romance, music, a bit of comedy and a flimsy plot that provided excuses to get Esther into the water.
The extravaganzas dazzled a second generation via television and the compilation films "That's Entertainment." Williams' co-stars included the pick of the MGM contract list, including Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Red Skelton, Ricardo Montalban and Howard Keel.