Explore Palm Springs: Esther Williams

Poolside diva was frequent desert dweller



The pool behind Esther Williams in this photo shoot was reportedly built by her pool company.

Courtesy of the Palm Springs Historical Society

 

In 1955, a locally published magazine, the Palm Springs Villager, showcased the quintessential pool cover girl of the era on the front of its September issue, Southern California’s own Esther Williams.

Contained within the magazine is a spread highlighting the film star’s Palm Springs exploits, including trips to the Chi Chi and, of course, a glamorous poolside photo shoot.

Williams dons a black swimsuit made for her line in partnership with Cole of California as she playfully poses on her “Esther Williams SunSpray”. The poolside furniture is part chaise lounge, part sprinkler that cools the sunbather with a continuous shower of water via the attached garden hose.

A shrewd businesswoman, Williams also owned a company, Esther Williams Swimming Pools, which reportedly built the Palm Springs pool featured in the photo shoot.

No stranger to Palm Springs, Williams’ first notable visit was in 1940 while starring with Johnny Weissmuller (remember Tarzan?) in the San Francisco Aquacade. The duo performed at the 13th annual El Mirador Hotel Swimming and Diving meet.

Made honorary mayor of Twentynine Palms in 1948, Williams frequently visited the desert staying at the El Mirador Hotel and soaking up the sun by its glistening pool.

She and then husband, Ben Gage, were also charter members of the Thunderbird Country Club, and could often be seen with residents Hoagy Carmichael, Desi Arnaz, and the like carousing at the clubhouse.

As Palm Springs celebrates its 75th anniversary, there are a multitude of ways to learn more about this desert treasure. One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring the city’s history.

Weekly, the Palm Springs Historical Society will share a story whose time and place corresponds with today.

The Palm Springs Historical is located at 221 S. Palm Canyon Drive. For more information, visit www.pshistoricalsociety.org

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Desert Guide
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Modernism Week Fall Preview Tickets Go On Sale Aug. 1

Modernism Week will host its Fall Preview over the Columbus Day holiday weekend, Oct. 9-12, in the Greater Palm Springs area, and tickets go on sale Aug. 1.

Idyllwild Lemon Lily Festival Sells Bulbs For First Time

For the first time since the Idyllwild Lemon Lily Festival began in 2009, this weekend's edition will feature lemon lily bulbs for sale. But don't expect them to be blooming with their signature whirling yellow leaves.

The Swon Brothers Promise High-Energy Show at Morongo Casino

Since appearing on "The Voice," Zack and Colin Swon of The Swon Brothers have transferred their sibling chemistry and musical talents to the national stage.

Summer Play Heats up Palm Canyon Theatre

Tee Quillan is poised to sizzle with his Coachella Valley directorial debut of "Hot Mikado," a modern interpretation of an age-old comedic opera at the Palm Canyon Theatre in Palm Springs.

Rich Pineda Returns to His Training Grounds a Sought After Tattoo Artist

Rich Pineda, who learned to tattoo in the Coachella Valley and now the one sought out for his artistry, will be featured at this weekend's Palm Springs Tattoo Convention.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

Romantic Palm Springs Getaway

Romantic Palm Springs Getaway

Experience the beauty, romance and excitement of the Palm Springs area when you enter to be the lucky winner of this romantic couples getaway
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Edit ModuleShow Tags