Esther Williams

A teenage swimming champ, statuesque beauty Esther Williams was born Aug. 8, 1921, in Los Angeles. Though her dream of Olympic gold was dashed by the advent of World War II, she caught the eye of an MGM talent scout while performing in Billy Rose's Aquacade and was soon on her way to fame.

Williams splashed onto the silver screen in 1942 with a supporting turn in Andy Hardy's Double Life and became a full-blown star two years later with the box-office smash Bathing Beauty. For the next decade, Williams appeared in a succession of aquatic-themed musicals, stepping out of the pool in 1949 to play opposite Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly in Take Me Out to the Ball Game. When her niche genre declined, she tried her hand at dramatic parts but failed to score with audiences.

After slowly fading from public view, Williams returned to spotlight in the 1980s with a lucrative line of women's swimwear. She died June 6, 2013.