Esther Williams, a late talented American swimmer, and actress, made a splash both in the pool and on the silver screen. She gained fame not only for her incredible aquatic abilities but also for her captivating performances in popular films such as "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," "Million Dollar Mermaid," and "Neptune's Daughter." Her mesmerizing underwater routines and charming on-screen presence earned her a special place in Hollywood history.
As her life's journey unfolded, Williams found love and companionship with her spouse, Edward Michael Bell, who was by her side until her passing. Together, they shared precious moments and created lasting memories that remain a cherished part of her legacy. Let's learn about her love life.
Who Was Williams's Husband At The Time Of Her Death?
Esther Williams' husband at the time of her passing was Edward Michael Bell. On June 6, 2013, she peacefully left this world in her Beverly Hills home located in California, United States. Esther, a remarkable woman who had brought joy to countless fans, had reached the age of 91.
Williams' departure was gentle, as she peacefully slipped away in her sleep, passing away from natural causes. The swimmer and actress' legacy, marked by her extraordinary talent and vibrant spirit, continues to shine bright, reminding us of the joy and inspiration she brought to so many lives.
Williams' Marriage With Edward Michael Bell
Williams and Bell shared a loving bond throughout their marriage, which lasted a remarkable 18 years, from October 24, 1994, until her passing on June 6, 2013 (the same year Jay Cutler married Kristin Cavallari). The actor and writer held a special place in Esther's heart as her fourth husband, while she held the role of his third wife. Fondly remembering their time together, he warmly described her as an athletic, strong, and powerful woman.
Bell often spoke with pride about Williams's impressive qualities, admiring the remarkable strength she exuded both as an athlete and as a woman. Her resilience and determination were traits that he deeply cherished, making their years together a testament to a strong and enduring partnership.
Previously Married To Fernando Lamas
Williams' before Bell's marriage to Fernando Lamas paints a tale of enduring love and rediscovery. From December 31, 1969, (the year Helmut Huber and Susan Lucci married) until October 8, 1982, they shared a journey through life's highs and lows until his passing due to cancer. Their initial encounter took place on the set of the 1953 film "Dangerous When Wet," but despite their on-screen chemistry, their relationship remained platonic off-camera.
However, fate had its plans as Lamas reappeared in Esther's life in 1960, and this time, their connection ignited into a passionate romance, as mentioned in an article from Vanguard of Hollywood. The intervening years seemed to have only deepened their bond, and his presence once again swept her off her feet, rekindling their love story and solidifying their place in each other's hearts.
The First Encounter Between Williams And Her Husband, Bell
The initial meeting between Williams and her future husband, Edward Bell, holds a touch of serendipity. Amid his role in organizing promotional events for the 1984 Olympics, he received an intriguing request from McDonald's. They were in search of a swimming celebrity to enhance their promotional efforts. At first, he suggested Buster Crabbe, but the idea didn't quite pan out.
Undeterred, Edward's instincts led him to propose Williams as the ideal candidate. Without hesitation, he dialed her number and outlined the opportunity. The actress, with her characteristic warmth and openness, responded with a delightful suggestion – "Would you like to meet for lunch?" as mentioned in an article from Wbur. This seemingly simple question marked the beginning of a connection that would blossom into a loving partnership.
Bell and Williams arranged to meet at a restaurant in LA, but the Swimmer's one-hour delay led to a comical mishap as he accidentally toppled the table upon seeing her. McDonald's didn't quite work out but Edward helped her land a role with NBC as a commentator for synchronized swimming, a new addition to the Olympics that year. Her reputation as 'the mother of synchronized swimming' perfectly suited her for this position, showcasing her multifaceted talents beyond swimming and acting.
Williams' Second Marriage To Ben Gage
Esther Williams' second marriage, this time to Ben Gage, adds another layer to her romantic journey. Their union, which lasted from November 25, 1945, until April 20, 1959, began in the picturesque setting of Beverly Hills and continued with a memorable honeymoon in Acapulco. The story of their meeting is a charming one: at a fundraising event, Esther was captivated by the presence of Sergeant Gage, a moment that led to a dance and sparked a connection between them.
Williams and Gage's courtship started around the time her first divorce was finalized, marking a new chapter in her life. The bond they forged over shared interests and experiences set the stage for their years together, filled with moments of romance, companionship, and the challenges that come with building a life together.
Lamas Was A Controlling Husband
Lamas, Late Williams' ex-husband, exhibited controlling behavior that led her to give up her career and made distressing choices regarding her memories. He once went through her scrapbook secretly, removing pictures of her past relationships, like her ex-husband's, Ben Gage and Dr. Leonard Lee Kovner, and burning them in their backyard. This possessiveness and insecurity were evident in his statement that he didn't want to think about anyone else touching her.
Lamas' resistance to accepting Williams' children from a previous marriage was evident, and his lack of support during her son Kim's motorcycle accident was disheartening. Despite these challenges, the actress chose to remain married to him, explaining that her role as a single parent necessitated difficult decisions to provide stability for her children while upholding her marriage. This glimpse into their relationship underscores the intricate balance Esther had to strike between her roles as a mother and a wife.
About Williams First Husband
Esther Williams' first marriage to Dr. Leonard Lee Kovner offers insight into her early life and aspirations. Their union, which spanned from June 27, 1940, to September 19, 1944, originated during their time at Los Angeles City College, where they first crossed paths. However, their paths eventually diverged due to differing ambitions and desires.
The marriage ended in divorce, driven by Dr. Kovner's strong opposition to Williams' involvement in show business. He held a firm stance against her pursuing an entertainment career, revealing a disconnect between their aspirations. Additionally, the couple's differing views on starting a family further strained their relationship, as he was uninterested in having children.
What Caused The Divorce With Gage?
As Williams' second marriage to Gage came to an end on April 20, 1959, the tumultuous nature of their relationship became more evident. Throughout their time together, his behavior had created a continuous state of upheaval in her personal life. His unpredictable and alcoholic tendencies had taken a toll on their marriage, causing distress and uncertainty for the actress.
Amidst these challenges, Williams' unwavering love and concern for her three young children remained a constant. The well-being and happiness of her children weighed heavily on her mind, driving her to navigate difficult circumstances with strength and determination. This period in her life showcased her resilience as she worked to create a stable environment for her beloved children while confronting the complexities of her marriage.
Gage's actions had a severe impact on Williams' finances. His poor investments and gambling losses amounted to nearly $10 million, plunging them into a financial crisis. Shockingly, he hid this situation not only from her but also from tax authorities, resulting in her owing three-quarters of a million dollars in unpaid taxes. This unexpected financial burden added to the challenges Esther faced during this tumultuous period of her life.
Relationship With Jeff And Victor
Esther Williams had another significant relationship with Jeff Chandler from 1956 to 1960. Their connection began during the filming of "Raw Wind in Eden" in 1956, as Chandler's marriage was falling apart. He proposed marriage to the actress several times, but she hesitated due to her ongoing emotional and financial recovery from her previous marriage to Gage. This period of her life reflects a time of introspection and personal growth as she navigated the complexities of love and her emotional well-being.