Nightly News   |  June 06, 2013

Esther Williams, swimming star, dies at 91

A championship swimmer, Esther Williams was discovered by Hollywood and eventually worked with some of the biggest stars of her time, including Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Cary Grant. After making her final movie in 1961, she started a swimwear line and taught kids to swim. NBC’s Ann Curry reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> that's screen legend esther williams making an entrance in 1953 's easy to love. she died in cal today, she was a true movie star and a big box office draw. she began as a star athlete and that helped to find her hollywood career. the titles of her film tell the stories, bathing beauty , million dollar mermaid. but esther williams never set out to be in the movies.

>> i always thought that stardom was my consolation prize .

>> she was a championship swimmer. the games were canceled that year because of world war ii . she was discovered by a hollywood actor and became a favorite pinup girl during the war. she swam more than a thousand miles on camera and it took its toll.

>> i was in an aluminum crown, and when i dove in 50 feet in the air, i said oh [ bleep ].

>> she once said her favorite leading man was the water. but she also worked with some of the biggest names of her time, franksy nau tra, gene kelly , and during a screen test , glark gabl kissed her in front of his wife.

>> i heard him say i told you i was going to kiss me a mermaid today. and from then on i was known as the mermaid on the lot.

>> reporter: in 161 she starred in her final movie.

>> when she asked him to marry him, he said, can you stop being esther williams .

>> she never really stopped being esther williams .

>> esther williams was 91.