TCM SPOTLIGHT: ESTHER WILLIAMS

Bathing Beauty ~ Easy To Wed ~ On an Island with You ~ Neptune's Daughter ~ Dangerous When Wet

Due July 17, First Ever Collection from America's Favorite Mermaid Features Co-stars Fernando Lamas, Red Skelton, Jimmy Durante, Ricardo Montalban, Van Johnson, Lucille Ball, Cyd Charisse

Burbank, Calif. April 9, 2007 -- The ravishing bathing beauty who pioneered a new genre of moviemaking -- "Aqua Musicals" -- will be seen in some of her splashiest roles when Warner Home Video and Turner Classic Movies showcase TCM Spotlight: Esther Williams on July 17. The Collection includes the DVD debuts of five Technicolor films from "America's Favorite Mermaid" – Bathing Beauty, On an Island with You, Easy to Wed, Neptune's Daughter and Dangerous When Wet.

Also included are special features such as TCM host Robert Osborne's recent "Private Screenings" interview with Esther (featured on the Bathing Beauty DVD), Academy Award®-winning vintage shorts, musical number outtakes, and classic cartoons. The films will be available only as a collection in a collectible digi-pak gift and will sell for $49.92 SRP.


About Esther Williams

Born in Los Angeles in 1921, Esther was the youngest of five children. As a teenager, she was determined to become a world champion swimmer, and by the age of 15 had already set records at such events as the Women's Outdoor Nationals and the Pacific Coast Championships. She was slated to participate in the 1940 Olympics, but when they were cancelled due to World War II, Williams went to work for Billy Rose's San Francisco Aquacade. After being spotted by an MGM talent scout, she made her screen debut in 1942 as Mickey Rooney's love interest in Andy Hardy's Double Life.

Hoping that a swimming star could surpass a skating queen (Fox's Sonja Henie), MGM began grooming Miss Williams for the future by completely restructuring her third film. Filming began in 1943 under the title Mr. Co-Ed, starring Red Skelton as the title character. Early into production, producer Jack Cummings soon realized that the leading lady was stealing the picture. The budget increased, and the picture was re-titled, becoming the Technicolor super-spectacular Bathing Beauty. The film was an international smash, and even though Skelton got top billing, it was Esther Williams who walked away with the movie.

Williams immediately clicked with the public and went on to become one of the biggest movie stars of the era. Over the next decade, she captivated audiences in nearly 20 films. Notably, she co-starred with Van Johnson and Lucille Ball in Easy To Wed (1946); played a movie star on a tropical island frolicking with co-stars Peter Lawford, Ricardo Montalban and Jimmy Durante in On an Island with You (1948); sang one of many Frank Loesser tunes, including the Oscar-winning "Baby It's Cold Outside" in Neptune's Daughter (1949); and swam the English Channel, danced with Tom and Jerry and found romance with real-life future husband Fernando Lamas in Dangerous When Wet (1953). All of these films are in this collection.

As Williams' popularity soared -- she was among the top ten box office stars in 1949 and 1950 – MGM created a special group of movies called "Aqua Musicals," making her swimming sequences more complex and elaborate with each new picture, and freshening up the act with additions such as trapezes, hang-gliders and fiery hoops.

Other hits included Million Dollar Mermaid and Take Me Out to the Ball Game (also available on DVD from WHV) after which Ms. Williams tried her hand at drama with good performances in films like The Unguarded Moment, Raw Wind in Eden and The Big Show. But she ultimately went back to the water, starring in several TV aquacade spectaculars and acting as spokeswoman for her own swimming-pool company. She retired in 1961 to devote her time to husband Fernando Lamas, her children (including stepson Lorenzo Lamas) and her many business activities. She was rarely seen in public during those years, and was conspicuously absent from the reunion of MGM stars in 1974 participating in the release of That's Entertainment!, the box-office blockbuster that featured a whole sequence around Esther's films. Interest in Esther remained high, but she remained out of the public eye until Lamas' death in 1982. She finally came back to the entertainment world in 1984, when ABC asked her to help provide commentary for the aquatic events at the Los Angeles Olympics, much to the delight of her many fans. The success of her classic films on home video and cable television introduced Esther to a whole new audience, and in 1994, she returned to MGM to serve as one of the hosts in the critically-acclaimed That's Entertainment! III.

About the Films

Bathing Beauty (1944)

Rambunctious funnyman Red Skelton joins Esther Williams in this buoyant (literally) comedy about a lovesick songwriter who enrolls in a women's college to woo his estranged swimming-teacher wife. Highlights include music from both Harry James and his Music Makers and Xavier Cugat and his Orchestra, Skelton in a pink tutu doing unforgivable things to Tchaikovsky and a spectacular, trendsetting "chlorine-and-chorine" finale.

Special Features:
· Robert Osborne hosts TCM's Private Screenings with Esther Williams
· Oscar-nominated Short "Main Street Today"
· Academy Award-winning Cartoon Mouse Trouble
· Theatrical trailer
· Subtitles: English (feature film only)

On an Island with You (1948)

Moonlight swims, swaying palms, Technicolor® sunsets and…cannibals?! Esther Williams, Peter Lawford, Ricardo Montalban and Cyd Charisse get the swimming, swaying and sunsets and Jimmy Durante gets the cannibals in this tune-filled paradise for fans of musical comedy. The frothy plot follows a swimming movie star (Williams, who else?) pursued by two handsome suitors on the set of her latest film, but the main point is mostly the songs, romance and Esther in a sizzling series of swimsuits and sarongs.

Special Features:
· Vintage Romance of Celluloid series short Personalities
· Classic cartoon The Bear and the Hare
· Theatrical trailer
· Subtitles: English (feature film only)

Easy To Wed (1946)

In this fast-paced, romantic comedy – a remake of the screwball 1930's classic Libeled Lady – the comic bits are legion, with two standouts: Van Johnson afloat with a baleful spaniel who knows a lot more about duck hunting than he does, and a laugh-out-loud drunk scene that uncorks the incomparable lunacy of Lucille Ball. When the local paper runs an untrue story claiming an heiress (Esther Williams) is a husband stealer, she prepares to sue for libel. So a newspaper honcho (Keenan Wynn) devises a counter scheme to compromise her image: He'll arrange a sham wedding between his fiancée (Lucille Ball) and a newsroom Romeo (Van Johnson), send the Romeo to woo the heiress, and make the phony story come true!

Special Features:
· Oscar-nominated Pete Smith Specialty comedy short "Sure Cures"
· Classic cartoon The Unwelcome Guest
· Theatrical trailers of This Movie and Libeled Lady
· Subtitles: English (feature film only)

Neptune's Daughter (1949)

Longing for a Latin lover, boy-crazy Betty Barrett (Betty Garrett) mistakes girl-shy Jack Spratt (Red Skelton) for the South American polo team captain José O'Rourke (Ricardo Montalban). Meanwhile, the real O'Rourke pursues Betty's elegant sister Eve (Esther Williams). Soon mistaken identities and romantic complications spin into a dizzy mix of slapstick and flirtatious fun. All is set to terrific Frank Loesser songs, including "Baby, It's Cold Outside," winner of the 1949 Best Song Oscar®. The film ends not only happily-ever-after but with (would a Williams fan expect anything less?) a stupendous water ballet.

Special Features:
· Outtake musical number "I Want My Money Back"
· Esther Williams cameo sequence from 1951's Callaway Went Thataway
· Oscar-Nominated Pete Smith Specialty comedy short "Water Trix"
· Oscar-nominated cartoon "Hatch Up Your Troubles"
· Theatrical trailers of this movie and Take Me Out to the Ball Game
· Subtitles: English (feature film only)

Dangerous When Wet (1953)

The "just add water" formula works again in this lighthearted mix of romance, music and comedy directed by Charles Walters (Easter Parade). Williams plays Katy, a farm girl who finds romance (with Williams' future real-life husband Fernando Lamas) while training for a swim across the English Channel. In the film's key sequence, Williams swims, swirls and swoops with cartoon stars Tom and Jerry in a concoction "brimful of attractive people and attractive performances" (Clive Hirschhorn, The Hollywood Musical).

Special Features:
· Outtake musical number "C'est La Guerre"
· Pete Smith Specialty comedy short "This Is a Living?"
· Classic cartoon "Name to Come"
· Esther Williams musicals trailer gallery
· Subtitles: English (feature film only)

TCM Spotlight: Esther Williams

Street Date: July 17, 2007
Collection: $49.92 SRP
All Titles Not Rated and Color

Bathing Beauty
Run Time: 101 minutes

On An Island With You
Run Time: 149 minutes

Easy To Wed
Run Time: 110 minutes

Neptune's Daughter
Run Time: 93 minutes

Dangerous When Wet
Run Time: 95 minutes

Note: All enhanced content listed above is subject to change.

The TCM Spotlight series of collections highlight acclaimed classics from the Warner Bros. Entertainment film library, which have achieved great popularity through their airings on Turner Classic Movies. Warner Home Video also partners with its sister company on a series of rare classics under the TCM Archives label. WHV's TCM Archives Collections currently available include: The Lon Chaney Collection, The Buster Keaton Collection, The Garbo Silents, The Laurel and Hardy Collection and The Forbidden Hollywood Collection Volume 1.

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