Esther Williams — "America's Mermaid" — died in her sleep today (June 6) at age 91.

Esther was a teen swimming champion who was discovered by scouts a MGM. She turned into their swimming star, making a "splash" in films like Bathing Beauty in 1944, Neptune's Daughter in 1949, and Million Dollar Mermaid in 1952. She had basically retired by the early 1960s but transitioned into a new career in the bathing suit and backyard swimming pool businesses.

Esther was married four times and had three children. In 1999 she released a memoir called The Million Dollar Mermaid. After that, she had some health setbacks. In 2001, she fractured her ankle after a fall down the stairs at her home in Beverly Hills; and in 2007 she suffered a stroke.

But back in 1984, she told The Associated Press. "I've had three exciting careers. Before films I had the experience of competitive swimming, with the incredible fun of winning. ... I had a movie career with all the glamor that goes with it. That was ego-fulfilling, but it was like the meringue on the pie. My marriage with Fernando [Lamas, her late third husband and co-star in Dangerous When Wet] — that was the filling, that was the apple in the pie."

A true class act, she will be missed.

Sources: People, Yahoo

Credit: Photo Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Photo: Esther Williams in "Pagan Love Song"