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The Million Dollar Mermaid: An Autobiography
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The Million Dollar Mermaid: An Autobiography

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  834 ratings  ·  85 reviews
During Hollywood's heyday, big studios battled over the next box-office attraction. While Gene Kelly danced and Judy Garland sang, Esther Williams swam into the heart of America with her dazzling smile, stunning aquabatics, and whole-some appeal. Hand-picked for stardom by movie mogul Louis B. Mayer, Esther shed her wide-eyed innocence at what she affectionately calls Univ ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 14th 2000 by Mariner Books (first published September 14th 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,724)
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Scott Fuchs
Jun 18, 2011 Scott Fuchs rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hollywood-o-philes
Esther Williams aside, this book deals extensively with behind the camera M-G-M, and the horrors of the studio system,including an amazing story of Joan Crawford on an empty soundstage.
A different kind of fun is in sharing what two of her husbands had in common.
Vivian
Upon watching "That's Entertainment" my then-nine-year-old daughter excitedly called me at my work asking that I check out every book and movie featuring Esther Williams that the library owned. I assured her that I would, wondering if our small town library would have ANYTHING about Esther Williams. To my surprise I found a movie or two and this autobiography. Later that night I asked my daughter how the book was going. She had plowed through the forward and gave me a fairly complete narration o ...more
Kathaileen
I bought this to read later but the day it came in the mail I started skimming and had a hard time putting it down.
She tried LSD therapy after reading Cary Grant’s praises of it in Life magazine. She saw her body as half hers and half her dead brother’s and realized she was trying to take his place with her parents.
She was a young swimmer who couldn’t go to the Olympics because they weren’t held in 1940 due to W.W.II.
She started in water shows with Johnnie Weismiller that would be considered
...more
Susan
Nov 29, 2007 Susan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Film buffs, fans of Hollywood insider bios
Shelves: nonfiction-adult
This book reminds me why I don't read many autobiographies, which isn't to say that it's bad. It's actually fairly likeable. I'm a sucker for anything having to do with Old Hollywood (and you really have to use the caps, I'm sorry) and the insider scoop is interesting. Still, sometimes you get a little weary of the running litany of everything that she knew better than everyone else, all the snap-on judgment calls, all the shrewd business moves, the cads she sidestepped on the way to fame...all ...more
Peggy
Esther just died this June, and I always wondered what her backstory was. It was interesting. I enjoy old classic movies, and I know some of the stories of the stars during the old studio days. What I found most interesting was that she didn't get the chance to participate in the Olympics because of Hitler and the war. I'm glad her talent was captured on film as she pineered water choreograpy and underwater staging. Like so many other actors, she was continually surrounded by people that siphone ...more
Renay
interesting - ish.... i didnt finish it
although i was terribly interested to read it when i picked it up - i got less interested the further into the book i read.
unfortunately i dont think esther williams was much of a writer - she was obviously a way better swimmer than author and perhaps should have stuck to swimming.
the book is written in a very jump - around, informal speaking fashion, almost like an uneducated person's writings... which annoys me asi read it - i want it to be worded preop
...more
Hillery
Read this book if you have any interest at all in Esther Williams. She is a down-to-earth, funny, and slightly bawdy lady. She tells of stumbling into movies almost by accident after her Olympic dreams for 1940 were derailed by World War II. There are lots of funny stories about her movies and co-stars, including some racy details about some of her sexual exploits. She is definitely not the completely innocent person our parents thought she was when they were watching her movies. She is in her 8 ...more
Diane
I loved this book. I loved the fact that Esther was honest and real and didn't care that she might be put in a bad light-she put it out there and lets the reader be the judge. Fernando doesn't come off too well, but when you're blinded by love, you do strange things. She was a bit of a contradiction, storng on the one hand and then allowing herself to be controlled by men on the other hand. But when you look at the times she lived in, that was the norm. I think she tried to be an independent wom ...more
Sara
I like to think that I share some connection with Esther Williams since we have the same birthday... how mystical. So some time ago, I bought her biography, not sure what to expect. I love Old Hollywood and am well aware that underneath its pristine image lurked seriously messed up things, all the more shocking than today because of the wholesome image stars would present to the public. And for the most part, Esther, it seems, did not fall prey to that duality - though don't get me wrong, she ce ...more
D.M. Dutcher
I wouldn't read this if you have any fondness or nostalgia for the golden age of Hollywood, because this book destroys it and pours salt over the ruins. Johnny Weissmuller, of Tarzan fame? Liked to show off his genitalia and try to repeatedly molest a young Esther when the two of them starred together. Her husbands? All fine at the first, all uniformly terrible at the end. Marlene Dietrech? Shocked a young Esther by showing up in the nude. Lana Turner? Liked to hit herself with a knotted roped a ...more
Shannon Renee
I have to confess something: I didn't have a clue who Esther Williams is. I'm 26, so I think I deserve a pass, or at least some slack. I can't say for sure why I picked this one up, (although I can tell you for once it was not the cover that drew me in. Not impressed here.) Maybe it was the title? WHo knows? But I loved learning about Esther. I wasn't as hard of a read, but I never really got bored with it. A good solid read. I can't wait to watch some of her movies.
Lesley
This woman is my favorite person in the world. With everything she's been through and pushed her way through, she always remained humble and polite, yet still managed to be one of the best entertainers in movie history. She's quite the girl next door, but she ended up creating a large business for herself and has inspired me to never give up and never regret.
Melissa
Ms. Williams refers to the fact that people are often guilty of expecting actors & actresses to live out the fairy tale characters they portray on screen and this simply is not the case. While I was not expecting a perfect story, I suppose I am guilty of hoping (anyway) that any actor/actress I admire does find that American dream & fairy tale ending. Sadly, I have more often than not been disappointed with these expectations & this story is no different. From foul language to drug u ...more
Rebecca
I still get her mother's saying "What part of the problem are you?" in my head. I no nonscence down to earth gal, with a fun streak, who you would enjoy having over for dinner.
Jono
this is a RIOT. Esther spent as much time on her back as she did in the water and tells!
Jeff Carpenter
The life story of Esther Williams; swimming champion, godmother of the sport of synchronized swimming, and a movie star that created her own genre of movies. In her own words she tells of the triumphs and difficulties of being a celebrity in Hollywood's golden age and the tumultuous relationships of her life. The aqua-musical as a genre was developed exclusively for Esther in the early 1940's and no one since has done anything like that. I really enjoyed this book, I am a casual fan of Esther's ...more
Sharon
My mom was reading this during her last visit and kept reading excerpts out loud, so I decided to read it for myself. Williams has some fabulous stories of life as an MGM star. She really brings that world to life. The most interesting aspect was how different the press was back then - so many secrets were swept under the carpet! Now I want to brush up on swimming musicals. I haven't actually seen that many of her movies.
Caite
Utter tosh. It's a wonder Esther Williams didn't go on to solve world peace given that, according to this book, she was better than everyone at everything ever. Her mostly forgotten films are also far greater works of art than anything else Hollywood has ever produced, thanks to Esther, and her lovers all had far more spectacular genitalia than any other man - although she doesn't claim to actually be responsible for the genitalia itself, just the enormous erections that she repeatedly describes ...more
Amanda Gentry
Great insight into Old Hollywood and all it's dish. Stars today definitely didn't invent sleeping around and backstabbing!

This book made me like Esther Williams a little less - it's hard to understand, even in the context of the 1940's - 1960's, many of the decisions she made with regards to her personal life. But *spoiler alert* I must say she won me back over by the time the book ended.
Rob Smith
Esther Williams biography is a very good guide as to what can happen in a celebrity's life. From tragic moments in her youth to the ease she entered show business to the difficulties staying there and an adult life with troubles from men, Williams lays out her life. It is all well written and better than most autobiographies.

Though, I did wonder at times if Williams was letting us know the whole story. She admits to mistakes, but also seems to take a too innocent stance involving other instances
...more
Geneil
I read Julie Andrews' autobiography Home last year, and now this one, and I have decided not to read celebrities' autobiographies anymore. I hoped that stardom fifty years ago wasn't as harsh, indecent, and sad as it generally seems to be now, but I guess that was foolish of me. I started skipping parts about halfway through this book, because I just don't want to know... I have enjoyed the movies these women made for years, and reading their autobiographies only makes me feel so very sad for th ...more
Kate Mackey
I found her book confusing as things were not always written in sequence of her life. I also found out that a story she added in the book of Jeff Chandler being a cross dresser to create more interest in the book. The book felt a lot more like gossip then fact. I also didn't care for the way I felt she portrayed herself as others were villians. Esther seemed at the beginning of her life as someone with high morals but yet didn't hesitate to sleep with married men later. I am also confused why sh ...more
Jo March
A very entertaining look at one woman's career in Hollywood and her personal struggles ( mainly caused by her bad choice of husbands! ) I re read this book in two days as it was so interesting I was dying to know what happened next!
Christine
Apr 07, 2008 Christine rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Extreme Narcissists
I started reading this book after seeing Easy to Wed (because I'm a big Lucy fan). I thought Esther Williams was gorgeous and thought I'd read a book about her since I didn't know anything about her except that she'd been married to Fernando Lamas.

After reading the first chapter about her LSD trip and how it cleared so many childhood isses up, I thought - this woman is a WHACK JOB!! The last paragraph of the chapter especially was beyond bizarre.

That opinion didn't change as I read further. Only
...more
Sean Peters
Hi

This I have to read again, it was one of the best celebrity autobiographies.

So good, so funny, and so heart breaking.

Stories about Jeff Chandler, and many more.

A highly recommended book

Sean
Sdhall0824
Since she was a movie star during my lifetime, I found her comments about her contemporaries to be enlightening. During this era, stars' personal lives were protected; so the news items we read about them were never anything but complimentary. Looking at her life, tho, I struck me that no matter how important you are, if you are a "pleaser" woman, you can continue to make bad choices in relationships. As an outsider, I kept saying to myself "why didn't you just leave/dump him?" As someone who we ...more
Coleen
Williams was a resourceful woman - full of strength and weakness - and success and failure. She did a great job creating that Esther Williams persona - and sad to read that she realized that she was willing to give up the spotlight and her identity to be Mrs. Fernando Lamas

Lots of interesting insider stories about the workings of MGM. Sad little story about an aging Joan Crawford- as well as other anecdotes about the head of MGM throwing temper tantrums.

I had heard of Esther Williams and knew s
...more
Lulu
This is a great, honest review of Williams' time in Hollywood. She pretty much explains what most people now know, Hollywood is full of self-servicing money hungry ars**oles who don't give a crap about the "talent". Like the time they made her shoot on location over a reef with poisonous coral or failed to notice she was slowly asphyxiating underwater but lucky the wardrobe woman noticed only because she wanted to get Williams' expensive outfit out of the water - yes they employed a person to ta ...more
Alise
I'd never heard of Esther Williams before I read this book. It was a great autobiography, she had an amazing life. I couldn't stop reading it.
Lena
Esther Williams leaves nothing out in her bio. She doesn't sugar coat it, she frank and up front about her marriages, her relationships, and her career.
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