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Esther Williams is the... Million Dollar Mermaid (1952)

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Million Dollar Mermaid is arguably one of Esther Williams's most important films, not only because it was a huge moneymaker, but because it also demonstrated the power Esther came to have at MGM. Growing a little frustrated with her unique brand of aqua musicals, she decided she wanted to bring to the silver screen the life of Annette Kellerman, an Australian champion swimmer who was basically Esther Williams before Esther even was. MGM bought the rights to Kellerman's story and Esther had her hired as a technical adviser. Because this was a biopic and therefore a prestige picture, Esther was given a top-notch director in Mervyn LeRoy and a popular leading man in Victor Mature. The incredibly talented Walter Pidgeon was even cast as Esther's father.

Like a lot of biopics from old Hollywood, Million Dollar Mermaid takes many liberties with Annette Kellerman's story. The woman was reluctant to sign over the rights in the first place. Reportedly, she was annoyed with MGM …