Esther Williams - Early Years

Early Years

Born in Inglewood, California, Williams was the fifth and youngest child of Louis Stanton Williams (January 19, 1886 – June 10, 1968) and Bula Myrtle (née Gilpin; October 8, 1885 – 1975). Louis Williams was a sign painter and Bula Williams was a psychologist. The two lived on neighboring farms in Kansas and carried on a nine year courtship until June 1, 1908, when they eloped and set off for California. However, they ran out of money in Salt Lake City, Utah, and settled there. Williams's brother, Stanton (September 4, 1912 – March 3, 1929) was discovered by actress Marjorie Rambeau, which led to the family (including sisters Maurine and June and brother David) moving to the Los Angeles area to be near the studios. Louis Williams purchased a small piece of land in southwest area of town, and had a small house built there. Esther was born in the living room, which was also where the family slept until Louis Williams was able to add bedrooms. In 1929, Stanton Williams died after his colon burst.

In 1935, Bula Williams invited 16-year-old Buddy McClure to live with her family. McClure had recently lost his mother and Mrs Williams was still grieving over the death of her son. Esther recounted in her autobiography that one night, when the rest of the family was visiting relatives in Alhambra, McClure raped her. She was terrified to tell anyone about the incident and waited two years before finally revealing the truth to her parents. They seemed unsure about her story, claiming McClure was "sensitive" and were sympathetic towards him when he admitted his guilt. After Williams stood up to him and banished him from her home, McClure joined the Coast Guard, and Williams never saw him again.

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