Such sad news today...the great Esther Williams has left us. She was 91.
Esther Williams is one of the really unique stars of movie history. She was the great swimming star of the movies, but she was also much more, with a charming and confident, appealing screen persona and a nice way with comedy.
It may be a bit of a cliche, but for me Esther Williams simply radiated sunshine. When I had surgery last fall, the first film I wanted to relax with when I got home from the hospital was an Esther Williams movie. Her films represent uncomplicated, colorful happiness.
I posted an overview of Williams' career when she was the Star of the Month at Turner Classic Movies two years ago.
I've seen most of her films; those reviewed here are NEPTUNE'S DAUGHTER (1949) and DUCHESS OF IDAHO (1950), along with a short piece on EASY TO WED (1946) (Update: I've now posted an expanded review of DUCHESS OF IDAHO.)
Fans of Esther Williams should by all means own the TCM Spotlight Esther Williams Volume 1 and Volume 2 DVD collections.
Her dramatic film THE UNGUARDED MOMENT (1958) is part of the set Women in Danger - 1950s Thrillers.
Obituaries: The Associated Press (carried in the Los Angeles Times) and the BBC News. The L.A. Times will post its own obituary later and I'll link to it at that time. Update: Here is the L.A. Times obituary.
Esther was simply the best, a wonderful part of the MGM legacy and the golden era of classic films. She brought everyone in our family a great deal of happiness, and I'm tremendously sad to know she's gone. It's safe to say there will never be anyone like her in the movies again.
Update: Turner Classic Movies has announced it will pay tribute to Esther Williams with a 24-hour marathon of her films beginning one week from today, on June 13th. The tribute will begin with BATHING BEAUTY shown at 5:00 P.M. Pacific/8:00 P.M. Eastern. A dozen Esther Williams films will be shown in the marathon, which will conclude Friday evening, June 14th.
Update: Esther Williams movies available on standard DVD releases are ZIEFELD FOLLIES (1946) and TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME. She also had a bit role in TILL THE CLOUDS ROLL BY (1946).
More Esther movies are available via the Warner Archive: A GUY NAMED JOE (1943), DUCHESS OF IDAHO (1950), TEXAS CARNIVAL (1951), and SKIRTS AHOY! (1952). All but DUCHESS OF IDAHO were newly remastered.
THE BIG SHOW (1961) was released by Fox Cinema Archives, but unfortunately, like many other FCA releases, it was put out in pan and scan.
Update: A tribute by Susan King in the Los Angeles Times.
Update: Here's Leonard Maltin on "Remembering Esther Williams."
And here's the link to the lovely "TCM Remembers" video.
Update: I've now reviewed the delightful EASY TO WED (1953).