Actress Esther Williams, known as "The Mermaid of Hollywood," died Thursday at her home in Beverly Hills, California, her publicist announced. She was 91.

The star of classic films such as "Ziegfeld Follies" (1945), "Neptune's Daughter" (1949) and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (1949), but above all "Bathing Beauty" (1944), Williams was one of the great stars of MGM Studios.

The specialty of Williams, a swimmer who aspired to participate in the Olympic Games, were the aquatic movie ballets of the 1940s and '50s, very popular for their mixture of romance, music, a little comedy and not much in the way of a plot.

Her bathing suit-clad publicity photo was one of the favorite pinups of U.S. soldiers during World War II.

Over the course of her career, she appeared in films along with movie icons such as Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Red Skelton, Ricardo Montalban and Howard Keel.

After the demise of the big studios and the costly musicals, she tried to reinvent herself as an actress in non-swimming roles, although without much success.

After her 1962 marriage to Fernando Lamas, her co-star in "Dangerous When Wet," she decided to withdraw from public life.

Williams had been confined to a wheelchair for years after a fall, but she remained active and enjoyed taking dips in her swimming pool heated by solar power, according to what her fourth husband, Edward Bell, told Efe in August 2011. EFE