Happy Birthday Cristóbal Balenciaga

Today is the 120th birthday of the Spanish fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga.  The world is a better place because he is in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Cristóbal Balenciaga
OCCUPATION: Fashion Designer
BIRTH DATE: January 21, 1895
DEATH DATE: March 23, 1972
PLACE OF BIRTH: Getaria, Spain
PLACE OF DEATH: Valencia, Spain

BEST KNOWN FOR: Cristóbal Balenciaga was a Spanish-French fashion designer and the leading couturier of Spain in the 1920s-30s. He moved to Paris during the Spanish Civil War.

Balenciaga was born in Getaria, a fishing town in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa, on January 21, 1895.[1] His mother was a seamstress, and as a child Balenciaga often spent time with her as she worked. At the age of twelve, he began work as the apprentice of a tailor. When Balenciaga was a teenager, the Marchioness de Casa Torres, the foremost noblewoman in his town, became his customer and patron. She sent him to Madrid, where he was formally trained in tailoring.[1] (Balenciaga is notable as one of the few couturiers in fashion history who could use their own hands to design, cut, and sew the models which symbolized the height of his artistry.)

Balenciaga was successful during his early career as a designer in Spain. He opened a boutique in San Sebastián, Spain, in 1919, which expanded to include branches in Madrid and Barcelona. The Spanish royal family and the aristocracy wore his designs, but when the Spanish Civil War forced him to close his stores, Balenciaga moved to Paris. Balenciaga opened his Paris couture house on Avenue George V in August 1937.

However, it was not until the post-war years that the full scale of the inventiveness of this highly original designer became evident. In 1951, he totally transformed the silhouette, broadening the shoulders and removing the waist. In 1955, he designed the tunic dress, which later developed into the chemise dress of 1957. And eventually, in 1959, his work culminated in the Empire line, with high-waisted dresses and coats cut like kimonos.

In 1960 he made the wedding dress for Fabiola de Mora y Aragón when she married king Baudouin I of Belgium. The Queen later donated her wedding dress to the Cristóbal Balenciaga Foundation.

His often spare, sculptural creations were considered masterworks of haute couture in the 1950s and 1960s.

Balenciaga closed his house in 1968 at the age of 74 after working in Paris for 30 years. He decided to retire and closed his fashion houses in Paris, Barcelona and Madrid, one after the other. Balenciaga died March 23, 1972 in Xàbia, Spain.

He taught fashion design classes, inspiring other designers such as Oscar de la Renta, André Courrèges, Emanuel Ungaro, Mila Schön and Hubert de Givenchy. Today the Balenciaga fashion house continues under the direction of Alexander Wang and under the ownership of the Gucci Group.[5]

On 24 March 2011 at San Francisco’s M.H. de Young Museum they celebrated the opening of “Balenciaga and Spain,” a 120-piece fashion retrospective of Cristóbal Balenciaga’s career. “You can’t even measure it,” said Rodarte designer Laura Mulleavy of Balenciaga’s influence. The $2,500-a-ticket fund-raiser for the museum drew 350 guests, including Marissa Mayer, Jamie Tisch, Gwyneth Paltrow, Orlando Bloom, Balthazar Getty, Maggie Rizer, Connie Nielsen, Maria Bello and Mia Wasikowska.

On 7 June 2011, the Balenciaga Museum was inaugurated in his hometown of Getaria by Queen Sofía of Spain and with the presence of Hubert de Givenchy, honorific president of the Balenciaga Foundation. The museum has a collection of more than 1,200 pieces designed by Balenciaga, part of them donations by disciples like Givenchy or clients, like Queen Fabiola of Belgium and the heirs of Grace Kelly.

Happy Birthday Dian Fossey

Today is the 83rd birthday of the zoologist Dian Fossey.  She is the reason that we know more about gorillas than we used to and that we value them more than we used to.  The world is a better place because Dian was in it, needs more people like Dian in it, and still feels the loss that she has left it.

NAME: Dian Fossey
OCCUPATION: Anthropologist, Zoologist
BIRTH DATE: January 16, 1932
DEATH DATE: December 26, 1985
EDUCATION: Cambridge University
PLACE OF BIRTH: San Francisco, California
PLACE OF DEATH: Volcanoes National park, Rwanda

BEST KNOWN FOR: Zoologist Dian Fossey was one of the foremost primate researchers in the world who for 18 years studied of a group of gorillas in Rwanda.

Primatologist and naturalist. Born on January 16, 1932, in San Francisco, California. Dian Fossey enriched our understanding of gorillas through her intense study of these animals from the 1960s to 1980s. She was interested in animals from childhood, but changed college courses from pre-veterinary studies to occupational therapy.

Dian Fossey moved to Louisville, Kentucky, to be director of the Kosair Crippled Children’s Hospital occupational therapy department in 1955. But she soon became restless and dreamed of traveling to Africa. On her first trip to Africa in 1963, Fossey met palaeontologists Mary and Louis Leakey, who encouraged her dream to live and work with mountain gorillas.

In 1966, Dian Fossey caught up with Louis Leakey at a lecture in Louisville, and he invited her to study the mountain gorillas in Africa. She accepted his offer and lived among the mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo until civil war forced her to escape to Rwanda.

Dian Fossey established the Karisoke Research Foundation in 1967, alternating her time between her fieldwork there and obtaining a Ph.D. based on her research at Cambridge University. She earned her degree in 1976 and later accepted a visiting associate professorship at Cornell University. In 1983, her book, Gorillas in the Mist, was published and became a best seller. A film with the same name was also released in 1988 starring Sigourney Weaver as Fossey.

Considered the world’s leading authority on the physiology and behavior of mountain gorillas, Dian Fossey fought hard to protect these “gentle giants” from environmental and human hazards. She saw these animals as dignified, highly social creatures with individual personalities and strong family relationships. Her active conservationist stand to save these animals from game wardens, zoo poachers, and government officials who wanted to convert gorilla habitats to farmland caused her to fight for the gorillas not only via the media, but also by destroying poachers’ dogs and traps. On December 26, 1985, Fossey was found hacked to death, presumably by poachers, in her Rwandan forest camp. No assailant has ever been found or prosecuted in her murder.

Dian Fossey strongly opposed tourism, as gorillas are very susceptible to diseases by humans like the flu for which they have no immunity. Dian Fossey reported several cases in which gorillas died because of diseases spread by tourists. She also viewed tourism as an interference into their natural wild behavior. Fossey also criticized tourist programs, often paid for by international conservation organizations, for interfering with both her research and the peace of the mountain gorillas’ habitat.

Happy Birthday Diego Rivera

Today is the 128th birthday of the artist Diego Rivera.  His full name is a sentence.  I first experienced Diego Rivera at Interlochen Center for the Arts when I stumbled across a book of his work in the library.  I used to go to the library a lot in the summertime, it was cool and quiet and a nice place to read for a couple hours.  My aunt was the librarian, so that was nice.  I remember looking at the photographs of his murals and reading the dimensions and being absolutely amazed.  I remember loving the complexity in his artistry of simple subjects.  It is like he took his time to honor every detail of the task of bundling this basket of produce, it just was so wonderful to understand that art was partially bringing light to and celebrating the every day existence of everyone.  It became much more accessible and personal.  The world is a better place because Diego was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.

NAME: Diego Rivera
OCCUPATION: Painter
BIRTH DATE: December 08, 1886
DEATH DATE: November 24, 1957
EDUCATION: San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Guanajuato, Mexico
PLACE OF DEATH: Mexico City, Mexico

Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez (December 8, 1886 – November 24, 1957) better known simply as Diego Rivera was a prominent Mexican painter born in Guanajuato, Guanajuato, an active communist, and husband of Frida Kahlo (1929–1939 and 1940–1954). His large wall works in fresco helped establish the Mexican Mural Movement in Mexican art. Between 1922 and 1953, Rivera painted murals among others in Mexico City, Chapingo, Cuernavaca, San Francisco, Detroit, and New York City.[1] In 1931, a retrospective exhibition of his works was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Rivera was an atheist. His mural Dreams of a Sunday in the Alameda depicted Ignacio Ramírez holding a sign which read, “God does not exist”. This work caused a furor, but Rivera refused to remove the inscription. The painting was not shown for 9 years – until Rivera agreed to remove the inscription. He stated: “To affirm ‘God does not exist’, I do not have to hide behind Don Ignacio Ramírez; I am an atheist and I consider religions to be a form of collective neurosis.”

Happy Birthday Margaret Cho

I remember first seeing Margaret Cho on TV, it was a stand up routine and they played it often on some cable channel.  There was a part about her brother being a born-again-christian surfer and of course, her mother.  I have loved her ever since.  Today is her 46th birthday.  Since I normally chronicle either people a lot older or dead people, I usually don’t include their various social media platforms, but Margaret is alive and creating content constantly.  I love her podcast and her Youtube channel.  Coincidentally, yesterday, Margaret followed be back on Twitter.  Little old me.  So for her birthday, click on her clicks and follow/like/ingest and wish her a happy birthday.

NAME: Margaret Cho
BIRTH DATE: December 5, 1968
PLACE OF BIRTH: San Francisco, California
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://www.margaretcho.com/
YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/user/mcho88
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/margaretcho
PODCAST: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/monsters-of-talk-podcast/id594033255
INSTAGRAM: http://instagram.com/margaret_cho

BEST KNOWN FOR: Margaret Cho is a Korean-American comic best known for her candid comedy, TV roles and advocacy.

Margaret Cho was born on December 5, 1968 and raised in San Francisco. Her career as a viciously sharp-tongued and unfiltered stand-up comedian began in her teen years. By her 20s, this Korean-American performer found herself starring in her own short-lived TV sitcom, All-American Girl. Since then, Cho has been the highlight of many comedy specials, tours and albums, as well as films and books. Her reign entertaining TV audiences has continued, too, with Dancing with the Stars, Drop Dead Diva and 30 Rock. When not cracking up the masses, this funny lady focuses her energies on advocating for gay rights and fighting racism and sexism.

Born Margaret Moran Cho on December 5, 1968, Margaret Cho grew up on San Francisco’s Haight Street during the 1970s. “There were old hippies, ex-druggies, burnouts from the ’60s, drag queens and Chinese people,” the Korean-American comic said of her official site. Her upbringing provided plenty of fodder for Cho’s early standup days. Her first comedic inspiration may have been her father, who once wrote Korean jokes books.

Humor definitely helped a pubescent Cho deal with teenage angst and bullying. She started doing standup at age 14, and by the 1990s, she had moved to Los Angeles, where her comic career gained traction. Cho’s first nighttime gig was on The Arsenio Hall Show. She became known for her outspoken and sometimes crude routines, as well as an ability to shed light on prejudices and stereotypes, especially those relating to gays, women and Asian-Americans.

Cho followed in the footsteps of other comedians by eventually earning her own TV sitcom: All-American Girl debuted on ABC in 1994, and was based on Cho’s real life as a rebellious Korean-American young woman amidst more traditional relatives. The series was groundbreaking, as it was the first primetime show to focus on an Asian-American family. While it was supposed to be her real big break, Cho has always been quite vocal over her dissatisfaction with the show, especially with, as she calls it, the network haranguing her to “act more Asian” and lose weight. In fact, Cho has often recalled publicly how she wound up with kidney failure after starving herself for her series.

Despite the cancelation of All-American Girl after only 19 episodes, Cho’s comic career continued to soar, especially after her critically acclaimed off-Broadway show, I’m the One that I Want, which was also developed into a concert film. Her Notorious C.H.O. performance at Carnegie Hall led to another smash film. The tours and taped specials haven’t stopped since, nor has Cho’s interest in TV stardom. She took another stab at her own program in 2008: VH1’s The Cho Show was a scripted reality approach to the comic’s life, featuring her real life entourage and parents. The following year, she was cast on Lifetime’s hit show, Drop Dead Diva, as lead actress Brooke Elliot’s assistant sidekick—a role that Cho has continued for four seasons.

Filmed at the Seattle Paramount:

TELEVISION
Drop Dead Diva Teri Lee (2009-)
Dancing with the Stars Contestant (2010)
All-American Girl Margaret Kim (1994)

FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Wedding Palace (27-Sep-2013)
Bettie Page Reveals All (8-Sep-2012)
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (13-Mar-2011) · Herself
Miss Representation (20-Jan-2011) · Herself
17 Again (11-Mar-2009)
One Missed Call (4-Jan-2008)
Falling for Grace (20-Jul-2007) · Janie
Bam Bam and Celeste (13-Sep-2005)
Margaret Cho: Assassin (2-Sep-2005) · Herself
Nobody Knows Anything! (2003) · Rental Car Agent
Notorious C.H.O. (13-Jun-2002) · Herself
The Thin Pink Line (7-Oct-2000)
I’m the One That I Want (4-Aug-2000) · Herself
$pent (21-Jul-2000)
Get Bruce (24-Jan-1999) · Herself
Can’t Stop Dancing (16-Jan-1999)
The Tavern (1999)
The Rugrats Movie (20-Nov-1998) [VOICE]
Ground Control (26-Aug-1998)
Face/Off (27-Jun-1997) · Wanda
Fakin’ Da Funk (1997)
It’s My Party (11-Jan-1996)
Sweethearts (1996) · Noreen
The Doom Generation (25-Oct-1995) · Clerk’s Wife
Attack of the 5 Ft. 2 Women (21-Aug-1994) · Connie Tong
Angie (4-Mar-1994) · Admissions Nurse #2

Author of books:
I’m the One That I Want (2001, memoir)
I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight (2005, memoir)

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Today is World AIDS Day – Do Something

"Stop AIDS" by Keith Haring

“Stop AIDS” by Keith Haring

Today is the 26th anniversary of the first World AIDS Day.  AIDS has killed more than 25 million people worldwide between 1981 and 2007.  Nearly 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S. and one in five of those are unaware of their infections.  Knowing is everything, make an HIV test part of your routine physical.

It is not a gay disease, it is not an African disease, it is not a junkie disease, it is not a disease that is given to people who behave badly or have unacceptable lifestyles, and it is not God’s punishment. It does not discriminate, it just kills. Some of the most influential people in my life are HIV positive, or I should say most of the most influential people in my life are HIV positive.

"Silence = Death" by Keith Haring

Silence = Death” by Keith Haring

I have been donating my time, money, and my gently-used items to Lifelong AIDS Alliance in Seattle for years.  Lifelong Aids Alliance does great work for people living with HIV and other chronic illnesses.  There are similar services in every community across the world, find one near you and see what type of donations (canned goods, clothing, time, money) they take and give to them the next time.

  • Here is a link to their donation page:  http://llaa.org/donatenow $54 – Provides one week of fresh meals and groceries for a person living with HIV/AIDS or other chronic illnesses.
  • Visit the Digital AIDS Quilt and create your own panel:  http://www.2015quilt.com/ While you are there, make a pledge to do what you can to help.
  • Tweet/share/re-blog all or any part of this post, increase awareness and involvement with your friends.

I am who I am today because of the amazingly talented, fiercely devoted, and ridiculously hilarious guys that have influenced me to be creatively fearless, to love unapologetically, and to be true to what is important to me.  Every birthday candle I blow out, every coin I throw into a fountain, every time I am required to make a wish, I wish for their health and a cure to be found.

I, along with the world, miss Anthony Perkins, Pedro Zamora, Freddie Mercury, Alvin Ailey, Rudolf Nureyev, Halston, Keith Haring, Herb Ritts, Isaac Asimov, Randy Shilts, Dorian Corey, Leigh Bowery, Robert Mapplethorpe, and many more.

The Global HIV/AIDS Crisis Today

HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has become one of the world’s most serious health and development challenges:

  • 33.4 million are currently living with HIV/AIDS.
  • More than 25 million people have died of AIDS worldwide since the first cases were reported in 1981.
  • In 2008, 2 million people died due to HIV/AIDS, and another 2.7 million were newly infected.
  • While cases have been reported in all regions of the world, almost all those living with HIV (97%) reside in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), most people living with HIV or at risk for HIV do not have access to prevention, care, and treatment, and there is still no cure.
  • The HIV epidemic not only affects the health of individuals, it impacts households, communities, and the development and economic growth of nations. Many of the countries hardest hit by HIV also suffer from other infectious diseases, food insecurity, and other serious problems.
  • Despite these challenges, there have been successes and promising signs. New global efforts have been mounted to address the epidemic, particularly in the last decade. Prevention has helped to reduce HIV prevalence rates in a small but growing number of countries and new HIV infections are believed to be on the decline. In addition, the number of people with HIV receiving treatment in resource poor countries has increased 10-fold since 2002, reaching an estimated 4 million by 2008.

 

Happy Birthday Carol Doda

Today is the 77th birthday of Carol Doda.  She is the subject of a cherished family story. She plays a very important role in the story of how Susie met her soon-to-be brother-in-law Waldie. She was originally going to take him to a classical music concert, but got the days mixed up and the tickets were for a different night. Waldie being Waldie, he said he knew a place he wanted to go and off they went. It turns out the places that Waldie was talking about was the Condor Club, a topless (and for a while, bottomless) bar in North Beach, San Francisco. It was the 1960s. The music started, and Carol Doda was lowered from the ceiling.

At Waldie’s memorial service this past summer, Susie spoke and included the story of how they first met. She referenced Carol Doda by saying “She was the most well-endowed woman I had ever seen” and received laughter and cheers from the family and friends that filled the Chapel at Interlochen Center for the Arts.

NAME: Carol Ann Doda
BORN: 29-Aug-1937
GENDER: Female
ETHNICITY: White
OCCUPATION: Performance Artist
NATIONALITY: United States
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Stripper at San Francisco’s Condor Club

Carol Ann Doda (born August 29, 1937) was a topless stripper in San Francisco, California in the 1960s through 1980s, one of the first of the era.

In 1964 Doda made international news, first by dancing topless at the city’s Condor Club, then by enhancing her bust from size 34 to 44 through silicone injections. Her breasts became known as Doda’s “twin 44s” and “the new Twin Peaks of San Francisco.”

Carol Doda attended the San Francisco Art Institute and worked as waitress and lounge entertainer at the Condor Club, at the corner of Broadway and Columbus in the North Beach section of San Francisco. Doda’s act began with a grand piano being lowered from the ceiling by hydraulic motors; Doda would be atop the piano dancing, as it descended from a hole in the ceiling. She go-go danced the ‘Swim’ to a rock and roll combo headed by Bobby Freeman as her piano settled on the stage. From the waist up Doda emulated aquatic movements like the Australian crawl. She also did the Twist, the Frug, and the Watusi.

On June 19, 1964, when Doda was approximately 23 years old (actually 26), the Condor’s publicist, “Big” Davy Rosenberg gave Doda a “monokini” (topless swimsuit) designed by Rudi Gernreich. She performed topless that night, the first noted entertainer of the era to do so. The act was an instant success. Two months after she started her semi-nude performances, the rest of San Francisco’s Broadway was topless, followed soon after by entertainers across America. Doda became an American cultural icon of the 1960s. The Republican National Convention was held in San Francisco, during the summer of 1964; many of the delegates came to see Carol Doda. She was profiled in Tom Wolfe’s 1968 book The Pump House Gang and appeared that same year as Sally Silicone in Head, the 1968 film created by Jack Nicholson and Bob Rafelson, and featuring The Monkees. The movie was produced by Columbia Pictures. She appeared in a Golden Boy parody with Annette Funicello, Sonny Liston, and Davy Jones.

Encouraged by her success, Doda soon decided to enhance her breasts with silicone injections, going from size 34 to 44. Doda became renowned for her big bust, and was one of the first well-known performers to be surgically enhanced. She had 44 injections, a large dose of silicone,[4] at a cost of $1,500.

For the topless and waterless Swim, Doda wore the bottom half of a black bikini and a net top which ended where a bathing suit generally began. Doda performed 12 shows nightly so that management could keep crowds moving in and out. The large lit sign in front of the club featured a cartoon of her.

Nicaraguan dictator General Anastasio Somoza Debayle paid an unexpected visit to the Condor Nightclub in November 1973 as seven limousines pulled up before starled parking attendants. About two dozen U.S Secret Service agents accompained the general Somoza’s party of nine and guarded each door. Somoza sent to Doda a word backstage as he departed that he considered her performance “most outstanding”.

From the late-1960s through the late-1970s, Doda was the spokesmodel for what is now the San Jose, California television station KICU-TV Channel 36, then known as KGSC-TV. Filmed from the waist up and wearing clothes which amplified her most prominent physical attributes, she would coo “You’re watching the Perfect 36 in San Jose.” She would also occasionally appear on-air to do editorial commentary on the issues of the day.

In 1982 Doda was again dancing at the Condor three times a night. She was 45 and performed to rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and ragtime. Each act was the same, with Doda appearing in a gold gown, traditional elbow-length gloves, and a diaphanous-wraparound. Her clothing was removed until she wore only a g-string and the diaphanous wraparound. In the final portion she was attired in only the wraparound. Her small body looked slimmer without clothes, a perception which was emphasized by the dwarfing effect of her breasts. At the time she was taking dance and voice lessons but had no definite plans for her future.

Doda retired from stripping in the 1980s and now runs “Carol Doda’s Champagne and Lace Lingerie Boutique“, a lingerie shop in San Francisco.

As of 2009 Doda had been performing (fully clothed) for several years at several North Beach (San Francisco) clubs, including Amante’s and Enrico’s Supper Club.

Happy Birthday Esther Williams

Today is the 93rd birthday of Esther Williams.

NAME: Esther Williams
OCCUPATION: Swimming, Pin-up, Film Actor/Film Actress, Athlete
BIRTH DATE: August 8, 1921
DEATH DATE: June 6, 2013
PLACE OF BIRTH: Los Angeles, California
PLACE OF DEATH: Beverly Hills, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Esther Williams, nicknamed “America’s Mermaid,” was an American actress who helped popularize synchronized swimming through a string of hugely popular films in the 1940s and ’50s.

Born in Los Angeles, California, on August 8, 1921, actress Esther Jane Williams, sometimes called “America’s Mermaid,” helped popularize synchronized swimming through a string of hugely popular films in the 1940s and ’50s. The youngest of five children, Williams suffered a great personal at an early age when her older brother, Stanton, a promising actor, died at the age of 16. Soon after her brother’s death, Williams found a respite from her sadness by learning to swim. She even got a job at a local swimming pool near her house to earn free swimming time.

As a teenager, Esther Williams was a member of the Los Angeles Athletic Club swim team. She won several national swimming competition events in 1939 and hoped to compete at the 1940 Olympic Games. Unfortunately, the Olympics were canceled that year due to the onset of World War II. Disappointed, Williams took a job at an upscale department store, but she wouldn’t stay there for long. Shortly after she took the new job, producer Billy Rose asked Williams to audition for his swimming and diving show, Aquacade, in San Francisco. She landed the lead role opposite Johnny Weissmuller, best known as Tarzan in the popular film series of the same name.

After the show ended, Williams returned to Los Angeles and eventually landed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios. Around this same time, her brief marriage to first husband Leonard Kovner ended. In 1942, Williams made her film debut in Andy Hardy’s Double Life, co-starring with Mickey Rooney.

Williams made a bigger splash, however, with her first swimming movie: 1944’s Bathing Beauty with Red Skelton. To film the elaborate synchronized swimming scenes, a special pool was built with all sorts of cranes and lifts to capture the action on film. Bathing Beauty went on to become one of the most popular films that year.

The following year, Williams married singer and actor Ben Gage. The couple would have three children—Benjamin, Kimball and Susan—before divorcing in 1958.

Though not an especially good actress, Williams was a sight to see in the water. She starred in a number of aquatic Technicolor musicals, including Thrill of a Romance, Neptune’s Daughter and Million Dollar Mermaid. People around the world flocked to movie theaters to see the graceful Williams work her magic on screen, making her an international superstar. Unfortunately, her life—both professionally and personally—hit a rocky period in the late 1950s: Her marriage to Gage ended in divorce, and she had some misses at the box office.

In the 1960s, Esther Williams had almost completely stepped out of the limelight. At the request of her third husband, actor Fernando Lamas, she stopped acting. (The couple stayed together until his death in 1982.) Instead of performing, Williams focused on a number of business interests. After endorsing swimsuits in the 1940s and ’50s, she designed her own swimsuit line, the Esther Williams Swimsuit Collection. She also put her name on a line of backyard swimming pools. Both businesses are still thriving today.

Williams remained an active businesswoman in her later years, despite suffering a stroke in 2007. The health setback didn’t slow Williams down for long. In time, she recovered and returned to swimming.

Williams spent the last years of her life in Beverly Hills, California, with fourth husband Edward Bell. She died on June 6, 2013, at the age of 91, in Beverly Hills, California, and was survived by her three children from second husband Ben Gage.