“Wet, she’s a star. Dry, she ain’t.”

EstherWilliamsBWDangerousWhenWet-778x10241-455x600Though this is a remark that could be made about millions, Fannie Brice directed it at Esther Williams (while no doubt thinking that she would pledge her life, her fortune, and her sacred honor to look like Esther Williams in any state of lubrication).

There’s no message here, just an appreciation of Ms Williams, who died last week at 91. Though my family was big on musicals, I was not, and I was a lamb at the slaughter when I walked into the living room one day to see the image below on the TV. It was a precursor to the blow to the soul Jacqueline Bisset delivered in Day For Night.

Obit Esther Williams

After winning the American championships in freestyle swimming, Ms Williams made some spectacular–and spectacularly silly–movies. Not at all a Hollywood type, she married badly; her husbands took her from the public eye, and one took her from her money. But she turned her life around in middle age, making a successful business of her own brand of swim wear, swimming pools, etc.

She was known for her “frankness and self-deprecating humor.” About women who were “fighting a thing called gravity” she said it was “crazy to have a bra made out of a piece of cotton that could double as a napkin on the table. And the thongs! God, we’ve spent our lives trying to keep our underwear out of that spot, and all of a sudden they want to put a fish line there?”

Toward the end of her life she regained some celebrity and made the very interesting remark: “When you’re out of sight for as long as I was, there’s a funny feeling of betrayal that comes over people when they see you again.”

RIP Esther Williams. I’m not sure what you’re doing on my blog, but I’m glad you’re here.

Age 67:

esther-williams at 67

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