Thursday, June 06, 2013

Farewell to Esther Williams

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 and also have reviewed NEPTUNE'S DAUGHTER on Blu-ray.)

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 on DVD 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.

Updates: I've now reviewed THRILL OF A ROMANCE (1945), THE HOODLUM SAINT (1946), MILLION DOLLAR MERMAID (1952), and EASY TO LOVE (1953).

2021 Update: Summertime With Esther Williams, plus a Blu-ray review of ZIEGFELD FOLLIES (1946).

2023 Update: Here's a review of Esther in the dramatic suspense film THE UNGUARDED MOMENT (1956), and another review of her in the adventure film RAW WIND IN EDEN (1958). I've also reviewed the Warner Archive Blu-ray release DANGEROUS WHEN WET (1953).


Blogger Stephen Reginald said...

So true. We will never see the likes of a movie star like Esther Williams ever again. We were lucky to have her with us for so long.

11:28 AM  
Blogger mel said...

Very sad news. Esther Williams was unique. I will miss her. I am thankful that I have so many of her movies to remember her by.


11:53 AM  
Blogger KC said...

I'm glad you acknowledged her charisma on the screen. I loved how confident and vibrant she was.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Your comment about Esther radiating sunshine is perfect. That smile and all those Technicolor movies give a warm, optimistic feeling. She left us a fine legacy.

2:54 PM  
Blogger DKoren said...

Such sad news. It always surprises me which losses affect me, and this news brought tears to my eyes. I agree with what you said, about she really did radiate sunshine, in the best way possible. RIP.

2:57 PM  
Blogger la peregrina said...

Always loved her movies, too. Great woman.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Silver Screenings said...

Farewell, Esther Williams. You were a true movie star and, no doubt, an inspiration to many young girls of the day.

6:06 PM  
Blogger LĂȘ said...

I agree with you: Esther's films, as well as many musicals of the time, represent a time of fun and no worries. By the way, I've made a video tribute with excerpts I have recorded since 2011. Too bad I didn't do it sooner :(
The link for the video is:

1:10 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

It's made me so happy to hear from so many fans of Esther and know how many others treasure her and her movies, which will live on.

Best wishes,

11:00 PM  

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