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

Lance Bass, Michael Turchin Wedding has its Beginnings in Palm Springs

Lance Bass and Michael Turchin will tie the knot on Dec. 20 as part of a E! network TV special, but the romance began nearly four years ago in one of their favorite places to visit: Palm Springs.

The Palm Springs Hotel Reflects History, Design of Yesteryear

The Palm Springs Hotel, a renovated 1950s property, is a striking mix of midcentury modern meets industrial chic with a bit of European flair. Think clean lines, ceramic tiles, and adorable Parisian inspired cafe tables.

Terry Fator Celebrates Christmas With Fantasy Springs Show

Calling himself a total 'Christmas nut', comedian and ventriloquist Terry Fator brings a holiday-themed show Dec. 20 to the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino.

Frank Sinatra Jr. Helps Bring in 2015 at Riviera Palm Springs

Frank Sinatra Jr. will help New Years Eve revelers bring in 2015 when he performs at the Riviera Palm Springs featuring songs from his legendary father and Palm Springs icon, Frank Sinatra, and his own.

Indian Wells Golf Resort Hosts Pro-Am Invitational

The Indian Wells Pro-Am Invitational golf event will tee-off Jan. 31, 2015 at the prestigious Players Course at Indian Wells Golf Resort.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

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.
Fashionista Friends

Fashionista Friends

Experience the glitz and glamour of Fashion Week El Paseo 2015.
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.
Edit ModuleShow Tags