Bathing Beauty: Esther Williams’ First Technicolor Musical

George Sidney directed Bathing Beauty, Esther Williams’ first Technicolor musical, starring Red Skelton and Basil Rathbone.

The film was initially titled “Mr. Co-Ed,” with Red Skelton as top billing. However, once MGM execs watched the first cut, they realized that Williams’ role should be expanded, and thereupon changed the title to “Bathing Beauty,” giving her prominent billing and featuring her pink bathing-suit on the posters.

The film also marks Janis Paige’s debut.

Released in the midst of a hot summer, the movie was billed as a refreshing colorful shower of music, comedy, and dance.  For the premiere at the Astor Theater in New York, MGM publicity set up a six story-tall billboard of Williams diving into Times Square with a large sign that said, “Come on in, the water’s fine.”