Rest in Peace Esther Williams


EstherWilliams
It is often said that the secret to success is to be in the right place at the right time. The life and career of swimming sensation Esther Williams proves that it has to be the right person in the right place at the right time.

Ms. Williams was born in Inglewood, CA, on Aug 8, 1921, the youngest of five children. Her parents grew up on neighboring Kansas farms, courted for nine years, eloped, and ran off to California. However, they ran out of money in Salt Lake, where they settled until their oldest son was discovered by actress Marjorie Rambeau, allowing them to complete their journey to the Golden State.

Underwater1An older sister taught Esther to swim at Manhattan Beach and the Los Angeles Athletic Club. The two got a job counting towels to pay their entrance fee of five cents apiece. While working at the pool, the life guards taught Esther the “male only” swimming strokes, including the butterfly. By the time she was 16, she was winning national championships, and was in training for the 1940 Olympic Games in Helsinki. When the Games were canceled due to the War, Williams dropped out of competition to earn a living.

Esther-Williams-Van-JohnsonShe found a job selling shoes and modeling for the I. Magnin department store on Wilshire Blvd when she was discovered by showman Billy William, who put her in his Aquacade show at the San Francisco World’s Fair. Here, she caught the eye of MGM talent scouts. Louis B. Mayer was convinced that MGM needed and “athletic leading lady” in its stable to promote as Fox had with Sonja Henie. Williams’ contract included a clause that she be allowed nine months before appearing on camera so she could take acting, singing, dancing and diction lessons. The contract also provided her with a guest pass to the Beverly Hills Hotel so she could use the pool on a daily basis.

Esther_questionShe worked in a number of short subjects before being cast opposite Mickey Rooney in Andy Hardy’s Double Life, followed by Hollywood’s first “swimming movie”, Bathing Beauty. In Bathing Beauty, Red Skelton enrolls in an all girl college to win the heart of the swimming coach played by Ms. Williams. Skelton was demoted to supporting lead, and Bathing Beauty‘s success was second only to Gone With The Wind when it was released.

When MGM send its top stars on War Bond tours, Esther was asked to tour military hospitals. She was a natural pin-up girl, not only beautiful, she actually belonged in a swimming suit. For the hospital visits, she would listen to the Bob Hope and Jack Benny radio programs on the radio and repeat the best gags for the G.I.s. Her visit usually included dancing with the soldiers, and mock screen tests where the script called for her “co-star” to refuse her advances until the end of the skit.

2737FFA7-A2C6-4B9B-BF82-304BA3463B00_mw1024_n_sEsther Williams made several appearances on Lux Radio Theater, usually in support of her movies, but also as part of an “Esther Williams pin” premium. She was a popular guest and hostess on Command Performance, as well as appearing in several public service announcements on popular programs.

Esther Williams passed away in her sleep at her Los Angeles home on June 6, 2013.

A Star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame at 1560 Vine Street honors Esther Williams’ contribution to the Motion Picture industry.

Good night, Esther Williams.

Elizabeth Taylor: Remembered in Radio

Too many of the current generation only know Elizabeth Taylor as a character from the tabloid covers. Truly her Hollywood lifestyle drew that type of attention, along with her eight marriages to seven different husbands (including Eddie Fisher). Perhaps a lady of her beauty and talent can be forgiven such excess.

Although this is a old time radio site and Ms. Taylor was a Movie Legend, please bear with us while we honor the passing of one of America’s great treasures. We would like to present some of the Radio work that Elizabeth Taylor left us.

Liz was born in London to American parents on Feb 27, 1932. She began in pictures at the tender age of nine. Her first great success came at the age of 12 when she landed a role in MGM’s National Velvet, released in Dec 1944. The success of the film changed Liz’s life forever. (The back problems that would plague her for the rest of her life can also be traced back to this time.) Ms. Taylor would reprise her role as Velvet Brown on Lux Radio Theater “National Velvet”  (Feb 3, 1947):

http://www.otrcat.net/otr6/Lux-470203-557-National-Velvet-OTRCAT.com.mp3

As a rising and pretty young star she of course got the call to appear on Command Performance to entertain the Troops. (March 8, 1945)

http://www.otrcat.net/otr6/CPUSA-450308-165-F-Sinatra,-E-Taylor,-M-OBrien-OTRCAT.com.mp3

She did a series of Teen Romance pictures, including the role of Carol Pringle in A Date With Judy (1948). She earned a reputation as “One Shot Liz” for her ability to shoot a scene in one take.

She had a number of successful roles as a young adult, perhaps her most notorious was when she became the highest paid actress to date in 1960 for her portrayal of Cleopatra (1963). Not only was the picture itself notorious, but Liz became tabloid fodder for her romance with costar Richard Burton; both were married to other spouses at the time of the romance. Taylor and Burton would later marry each other. Twice.

Much of Elizabeth Taylor’s later life would be sprinkled with scandal and failing health. She was a vocal supporter of her friend Michael Jackson during his child abuse trial in California.

Ms. Taylor passed away on Mar 23, 2011, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA of congestive heart failure.

Good night Liz.