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A national champion swimmer at 16, the statuesque (5'8") Williams reluctantly parlayed her talent into a lucrative MGM contract during World War II. She swam through a few small rolls (A Guy Named Joe, Andy Hardy's Double Life) and by 1948 was a full-fledged Hollywood star. In this rich memoir, Williams candidly looks back on her eventful life, from her amateur swimming days in the 1930s through her trademark aquatic musical spectaculars. Along the way, she gives readers glimpses of some of Hollywood's nuttiest celebrities, including studio chief Louis Mayer (who once writhed on the rug to make a point). She also tells stories about the likes of Howard Hughes, Van Johnson, Ricardo Montalban, and Victor Mature and frankly reveals some surprising details from her lifeÄincluding a sexual assault at age 13, LSD therapy, and catering to third husband Fernando Lamas's every wish (in exchange for fidelity). Williams describes Hollywood's golden age thoughtfully and humorously; to echo Billy Crystal's affectionate parody of Lamas, this book is "mahvelous." Recommended for all public libraries, especially those with large film collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/99.]ÄKim R. Holston, American Inst. for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters, Malvern, PA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
MGM swim-femme Williams delighted millions in choreographed aqua-movie-musicals during the 1940s and '50s: her unbuttoned autobiography examines both her splashy, sunny public image and the murky waters of her private life. Williams and Diehl (Tales from the Crypt) backstroke through a flood of memories, giving a fluid treatment to "hundreds of hours of conversations that are the basis for this book." Williams opens by describing the LSD trip she took in 1959 (Cary Grant helped her score the acid), then dives into her traumatic early life: a brother died at 16, and a boy the same age raped the young Williams repeatedly. Competing in swim meets at 15, Williams became a national champion in 1939, costarred in Billy Rose's Aquacade with the drunken, exhibitionistic Johnny Weissmuller and signed with MGM in 1944. Williams's movie years constitute the colorful core of the book, displaying life inside a major studio during Hollywood's Golden Age and showing screen legends with their pants downÄsometimes literally. Williams had to deal with disastrous marriages, manipulative moguls and life-threatening water stunts. Her sparkling anecdotes alternate the scandalous, the charming and the ridiculous. When, during the rain-drenched filming of Pagan Love Song, Williams cables from Kauai to tell her studio head she's pregnant, the announcement reaches all the ham radio operators in California. Later chapters cover Williams's work for TV, her swimsuit licensing and her years with jet-setting, tyrannical third husband Fernando Lamas. Williams speaks of her own "zest for life"; she and collaborator Diehl demonstrate it many times over in this tremendously entertaining life story. First serial to Vanity Fair. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
"Forthright and affably ribald.-Entertainment Weekly
"Her sparkling anecdotes alternate the scandalous, the charming and the ridiculous....Tremendously entertaining life story."-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Williams is capable and down-to-earth, but the movie star has just enough ego-and the requisite bad taste in men-to make her story interesting."-Chicago Tribune
"Williams, always sassy, proves herself to be a daring memoirist."-Time "One of the most engaging and involving movie-star bios ever; her Million Dollar Mermaid is really something special."-Liz Smith, The New York Post