Tuesday, February 20, 2007

1944...I dream of being Esther Williams

63 years later and I still think that Esther Williams is the epitome of what the “all American“ girl should be. No shoulder pads needed here ! She was strong, healthy and beautiful ... not a bit like the scrawny females that seem to be the norm today.

I was 11 years old when I first viewed one of her extraordinary films. This was in Wellesley Hills, Ma., where the movie theater was practically around the corner from our house. I absolutely loved going to the movies and I would have lived there if my parents had allowed it.

In 1944 at our theater they would usually play a newsreel and then the featured movie. There might be a cartoon and a preview of next week’s film; but very little in the way of advertising as there is today. Also, the same movie would be shown over and over. If you missed the beginning it was no big deal...you just sat on and watched it again.

This was my favorite way to spend a Saturday. I would get my ticket in the morning, when it cost just 10 cents, and then stay on for the rest of the day. This was especially satisfying when an Esther Williams film was featured. Her beautiful underwater sequences were breathtaking and I could watch them forever.

I would imagine myself as Esther, leading the rest of the girls in those choreographed ballet moves. The camera would follow us under water and then switch to an overhead shot. The viewer would be enchanted to see a flower appear on the surface of the pool and would then realize that it was eight gorgeous bathing beauties perfectly spaced and moving in sync…their legs and arms intertwined to simulate colorful petals and leaves.

Then Esther would suddenly appear, rising up and out of the water in the center of the group like a bud unfolding. The music would rise to a crescendo and I would be riveted to my seat. She seemed to be suspended in air and I would hold my breath until she took her final graceful dive. It was magnificent and I can remember it like it was yesterday.

Most of the films had weak plots but the water ballet sequences, usually choreographed by Busby Berkeley, have never been surpassed. My dream of being the next Esther Williams wasn't the least diminished by the fact that I could barely dog paddle across a shallow wading pool !


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Esther Williams was indeed breathtaking. Her poise and her beauty captivated viewers.
And I SO agree on how great she looked and not like the models of today that resemble street urchins, who desperately need some calories.

4:46 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

You and I had that dream in common. I used to watch her movies and pretend to be her, even though I could hardly swim and never dove into the water. I had Esther Williams Paper Dolls and loved them. She was very glamorous.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even I had a bit of a crush on Esther. I often found myself torn between Esther and Tarzan's Jane....Paulette Goddard to be more precise.

4:38 AM  
Blogger dmmgmfm said...

I was an avid swimmer and my dad always said I looked like Ester Williams. I was proud of that fact.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

Yes, Esther was a gorgeous lady, gone are the times of making such eloquent movies with the outstanding choreography. My PA loved her, and of course he loved Audrey Hepburn aswell, what a lady.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

I lived to swim back then and often tried to emulate her moves. Yeah, right. Anyway, I agree with you, she was wonderful.

As for her looks, I wish today's women would realize that healthy is prettier and sexier than skin and bones.

4:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On this side of the Atlantic, I too wanted to be Esther Williams and never missed one of her movies.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Mortart said...

From your posts--so well written--I should have known that you had been a journalism major.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember back then when movies or "picture shows" were a big part of my life too. We never knew what time the movie started, and it really did not matter because the plots were so thin if we came in during the middle it was no problem. And like you, we stayed to watch it over and over again, at least three times.

Those were the days.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Suzy said...

Oh gosh, I've NEVER seen her. Now I have to go looking for some movies.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Ginnie - I too, love these movies. I'm glad you posted this. I've got to order a movie or two of Esther's from Netflix. I, also, never got much beyond the dead-man's float.

6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't a big Esther Williams fan, but I was a fan of girls with a figure like hers. What ever happened to waists ?

7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Famous for swimming! I vaguelly remember seeing clips of these swimming routines making beautiful flowers in the water. I think a variety TV show showed clips of them. I loved that synchronised stuff. In the CYO drill team I belonged to, we wore red, white, and blue uniforms and did manuvers working with the colors.

7:33 AM  
Blogger Lucia said...

I'm a little late on the comments here. I loved this post! For me, it's a toss up between Esther Williams and Carmen Miranda. For whatever reason, I was looking at pics of Esther Williams online a couple of weeks ago.

3:24 PM  

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