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Still making a splash: Esther Williams continues to share her love of swimming.


Competitive swimmer/turned actress/turned businesswoman Esther Williams says she has learned a great deal during her lifetime. The woman nicknamed "America's Mermaid," who made her film debut in the 1942 film Andy Hardy's Double Life, says: "I know now that every age has its compensations. I have no woulda's or coulda's. I have no regrets. I did it the right way."


Shortly after her first film, MGM created a sub-genre for Williams, the "aqua-musical." Her first swimming role was in 1944's Bathing Beauty.

"I think my favorite movie role was in Bathing Beauty," Williams says. "It was the first of my 'aqua-spectacular' films, and I didn't ever think they would make another. The first always seems to be the most memorable."

Following the decline of MGM's aqua-musical, Williams took a turn at dramatic roles, such as The Unguarded Moment in 1956, co-starring George Nader and John Saxon, and The Big Show in 1961, co-starring Cliff Robertson and Robert Vaughn.

Williams retired from acting in the 1960s but appeared in 1994's That's Entertainment! III, where she talked about her MGM film roles.

These days, Williams fills her days working with charities, in particular the Blind Children's Center in Los Angeles.

"Blind children are safe in the water," she says. "Swimming is the best exercise they can do. They never have to be afraid of falling. We built their first swimming pool."

Williams started swimming when she was very young.

"We lived in southwest Los Angeles, and my family would take the Red Car to Manhattan Beach," she remembers. "My older sister, Maureen, would take me in the ocean. I think I wore a hand-me-down suit. later, my mother was instrumental in having a park playground pool built in southwest L.A."

It was there that Williams became friendly with the lifeguards, who showed her how to swim. "By this time I was a gangly 10-year-old," she recalls. She became a competitive swimmer, winning the Amateur Athletic Union's national championship in the 100-meter freestyle.

After her stint in the film industry, Williams lent her name to Esther Williams Swimming Pools and Esther Williams Swimwear. Today, both companies are still active and profitable.

Williams remains a staunch proponent of swimming.

"Swimming is the ultimate relaxation," she says. "It is the only sport that you can do from your first bath to your last, almost without injury. In the water, you are weightless and ageless."

Williams's autobiography, The Million Dollar Mermaid, is being made into a movie about her life--"Isn't that fun?" she says, "to get to see your life enacted in front of you? Can I remain dispassionate? We'll see...."

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Author:Jung, Raphaela
Publication:Celeb Life Magazine
Date:Dec 22, 2007
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