Bathing Beauty was Hollywood’s first swimming movie, and it created a new genre that was perfectly suited to Esther Williams beauty and athletic skills. A special 90-foot square, 20-foot deep pool was built at Stage 30 on the MGM lot, complete with hydraulic lifts, hidden air hoses and special camera cranes for overhead shots.
“No one had ever done a swimming movie before,” she explains, “so we just made it up as we went along. I ad-libbed all my own underwater movements.” Famous choreographer Busby Berkeley was responsible for the film’s elaborate water scenes – complete with fountains, flames, smoke and, as Williams herself admits, lots of pretty girls swimming around with bows in their hair. It worked,Bathing Beauty was second only to Gone with the Wind as the most successful film of 1944.
Check out Esther Williams.com for some lovely imagery and links to genuine 1940’s swimwear