For sale is a rare 1944 Cardboard ESTHER WILLIAMS POSTER advertising a BOSTON BATHING BEAUTY CONTEST inspired by and promoting the ESTHER WILLIAMS MOVIE “BATHING BEAUTY”. This original 1944 poster board or window card features a picture of Hollywood Star Ester Williams. The bathing suit she is wearing in the poster is the same suit that she wore when she was featured on the cover of Life Magazine issue dated April 17, 1944. This large poster board is very good condition but has some minor discoloration, staining, and edge wear. This WWII era beauty contest took place at Lowe’s State Theatre in early August, 1944. Similar contests were held in other cities and the winner of local contests won a share of a $1,000 War Bond and local prizes. For the Boston contest the local prizes worth $300 of which included clothing and a make-up products. This color poster measures 22 inches by 14 inches. An first rate Hollywood collectible and featuring an American icon.
The Bathing Beauty Film was a musical starring Red Skelton, Basil Rathbone, and Esther Williams. This was her first her first Technicolor musical. The film premiered at the Astor Theater in New York. For the event, MGM publicity set up a six story-tall billboard of Williams diving into Times Square with a large sign that said “Come on in. The water’s fine!” Several moments from the film became famous, one such scene in which swimmers dive past one another into the pool and water stunts involving Williams, including her being received as a queen emerging from the water, her high swan dive, and her being surrounded by several other swimmers who form a circle. The overhead shots of these elaborate choreographed sequences became iconic and have been parodied many times over the years.
Esther Jane Williams was an American competitive swimmer and actress. She set regional and national records in her late teens on the Los Angeles Athletic Club swim team. Unable to compete in the 1940 Summer Olympics because of the outbreak of World War II, she joined Billy Rose’s Aquacade. During the show, she spent five months swimming alongside Olympic gold-medal winner and Tarzan star Johnny Weissmuller. Williams participation in the show caught the attention of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer talent scouts. After appearing in several small roles, and alongside Mickey Rooney in an Andy Hardy film, Williams made a series of films in the 1940s and early 1950s known as “aquamusicals” that featured elaborate performances with synchronized swimming and diving.
During WWII, while top stars at the studios such as Judy Garland, Betty Grable, and Shirley Temple took part in bond tours during the war, Williams was asked to do hospital tours. At this point, Williams had achieved pin-up status because of the number of photographs of her in bathing suits. During the hospital tours, Williams invited GIs to dance with her on stage and take part in mock screen tests. The men would receive a card telling them their lines, and they would act out the scene in front of the other soldiers. These tests were always romantic scenes to which the men were required to refuse multiple times. When the men said the final, “No”, Williams would pull at her tear-away skirt and sweater leaving nothing but a gold lamé swimsuit. The scenes would always end with the men giving in and kissing her after that stunt.