There she is, with our own Donald Gordon, just starting out in films and before all her on screen aquatic gyrations.

But would this beautiful “mermaid” have risen to stardom without that genius of Busby Berkeley?

After all, it was Berkeley who conceived the musical-production numbers in Warner Brothers’ 1933 extravaganza, Footlight Parade — which highlighted Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell. Notable among those numbers was one titled “By a Waterfall,” which sent Ruby and dozens of beauties diving into a massive pool.

That induced a EUREKA moment in the front office.

“By A Waterfall” was seen as the forerunner of the successful stage Aquacades, which then got MGM thinking that they could do for swimming what Sonja Henie had done for ice skating, that is, make it film box office.

We see Esther Williams above as a starlet, a few years before her great success in the water. And yes, MGM did eventually pair Williams with director Berkeley, the man who started it all.

Everyone has seen pictures of Esther in a bathing suit.  But here she is on the back lot in a plain ole dress. She still looks pretty good, in our opinion.

This never-before-seen snap was taken by her friend (and our late pal), uber fan Donald Gordon, who was so seized by the moment that he grabbed her left forearm as well as her hand. Now that’s taking advantage of the situation, Donald!

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