Esther Williams, whose experiences as a young swimming champion led to a career of Hollywood "aqua-musicals" designed just for her, died on Thursday (June 6) in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 91.
Williams, one of the biggest box-office stars of the 1940s and 1950s, died peacefully in her sleep and had been in declining health due to old age.
Williams became known as "Hollywood's Mermaid" and "The Queen of the Surf." Williams' "aqua-musicals" were escapist comedies in lush color, with lavish song and watery dance numbers and lots of footage of synchronized swimming.
Williams was born in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood in 1921. As a young swimmer, she set what were then world records in the 100-meter freestyle and 880-yard relay. She also worked as a model.
In her later career, Williams did a few 1960s television specials and hosted swimming events for ABC-TV's coverage of the 1984 Olympic Games.