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Million Dollar Mermaid (1952)

Biopic of Australian swimming champ and entertainer Annette Kellerman. After overcoming polio, Kellerman achieves fame and creates a scandal when her one-piece bathing suit is considered indecent.

Director:

Mervyn LeRoy

Writer:

Everett Freeman (screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Esther Williams ... Annette Kellerman
Victor Mature ... James Sullivan
Walter Pidgeon ... Frederick Kellerman
David Brian ... Alfred Harper
Donna Corcoran ... Annette - 10 years old
Jesse White ... Doc Cronnol
Maria Tallchief ... Pavlova
Howard Freeman ... Aldrich
Charles Watts Charles Watts ... Policeman
Wilton Graff ... Garvey
Frank Ferguson ... Prosecutor
James Bell ... Judge
James Flavin ... Conductor
Willis Bouchey ... Director
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Storyline

Million Dollar Mermaid tells the story of Australian swimming sensation Annette Kellerman, who overcame childhood polio to go on and achieve fame as a professional swimmer and film star in the early decades of the 20th century. At the same time, she scandalized the world by wearing a one-piece bathing suit on public beaches long before the style was accepted in polite company, and made waves in other ways as well. The story was a perfect vehicle decades later to showcase the star quality of Esther Williams in the 1950s, and Kellerman's moniker was picked up by Life Magazine when it named Ms. Williams the "Million Dollar Mermaid" herself. Written by Tedosan

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Inspired by the true story of bathing beauties! (Million Dollar Mermaid) See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 March 1953 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

One Piece Suit See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on December 14, 1953 with Esther Williams and Walter Pidgeon reprising their film roles. See more »

Goofs

Annette Kellerman (Esther Williams) tells the judge that her swimsuit "will cover the entire body except the *forearms* and the head." However, the swimsuit she exhibits in court and which she wears in the following scenes does not cover *any part of her arms*. See more »

Quotes

James Sullivan: Baby, somewhere along the line, we got our signals crossed. You've got it into your head that you're Joan of Arc. Well, get it out fast. You're a swimmer doing a tank act in Sullivan's water carnival, and not a bad show either.
Annette Kellerman: And how long can it last? After all, all we're doing is capitalizing on a lot of cheap bathing suit publicity.
James Sullivan: Well, what do you think this Aldrich thing is anyway? All he's trying to do is cash in on the same dodge, a ballyhoo that I arranged.
Annette Kellerman: That you arranged?
James Sullivan: Sure. ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Danse des Mirlitons (Dance of the Reed Flutes)
(uncredited)
From "The Nutcracker Suite, Op. 71a"
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Played during the underwater ballet at the Hippodrome
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Three Cheers for Esther Williams, Busby Berkeley and George Folsey!
31 May 2011 | by wes-connorsSee all my reviews

In Australia, little Donna Corcoran (as little Annette Kellerman) swims to overcome polio. Supported by father Walter Pidgeon (as Frederick), she becomes a little swimming champion. The cute girl quickly grows up to be attractive trophy-collecting Esther Williams (as the adult Annette Kellerman). She meets manly Victor Mature (as James "Jimmy" Sullivan) and goes to America. Mr. Mature puts her in a shocking one-piece bathing suit and Ms. Williams is accused of "indecent exposure." They are mutually attracted, but Williams must listen to Mature tell her:

"Wet you're terrific, dry you're just a nice girl who ought to settle down and get married."

Understandably, this nervy line puts a cramp in their romance. Williams also attracts "Hippodrome" owner David Brian (as Alfred Harper). While not classically handsome, kangaroo-trainer Jesse White (as Doc Cronnol) gets no action; he's faithful, supportive and funny, but apparently not Williams' type. All this silliness is based on a few facts from the real turn-of-the century celebrity Annette Kellerman's life. The original "Million Dollar Mermaid" was also famous for appearing for the public in only her "birthday suit" - but this biography keeps Williams' Kellerman modestly covered.

Stick around for the sensational aquatic scenes. This is where Williams, choreographer Busby Berkeley, and cinematographer George J. Folsey really shine. They didn't do it alone, of course, as the MGM production team employed hundreds of hard-working helpers. Ballet dancer Maria Tallchief (as Anna Pavlova) and one of the seemingly endless cute Corcoran kids are additionally noteworthy. Young Donna won a "Film Daily" acting nomination in their juvenile category, Mr. Folsey's color photography received "Academy Award" consideration, and Williams drew in the crowds.

****** Million Dollar Mermaid (12/4/52) Mervyn LeRoy ~ Esther Williams, Victor Mature, Walter Pidgeon, David Brian


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