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The Marriages of Esther Williams


3 of 5

Esther Williams' Second Husband -- Ben Gage (1945-1959)
Esther Williams and Ben Gage

Esther Williams with her second husband Ben Gage in Cannes, 1945.

Photo: Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche / Getty Images
Ben Austin Gage: October 29, 1914 in Chicago, Illinois.

Ben: On April 28, 1978, at the age of 63, Ben died in Los Angeles, California from heart failure.

How Ben and Esther Met:
Esther met Ben at a fund-raiser when he asked her to dance.

Esther: "Ben was into fun. He was boyish, almost puppylike, and that was exactly what I needed after all of Leonard's darkness."
Source: Esther Williams, Digby Diehl. The Million Dollar Mermaid. 2001. pg. 115.

Wedding Date:
On November 25, 1945, Esther and Staff Seargeant Ben Gage were married in Beverly Hills, California at the Westwood Community Church. Their wedding reception was at the Mandeville Canyon home of her publicist, Melvina Pumphrey. Since she was making a movie in Mexico, they honeymooned in Acapulco, Mexico.

Ben and Esther had three children together, Benjamin, Susan, and Kimball.

officially separated in November 1957, Esther and Ben were divorced in April 1959. Due to Ben's bad investments, gambling, and drinking, he lost millions of Esther's earnings and she ended up $750,000 in debt to the I.R.S.

Esther: "... at home Ben Gage's drinking spun further out of control ... the score begiins to add up after a while; and you become a joke, and your marriage becomes a joke. Ben never stopped playing the fool, and I never stopped apologizing."
Source: Esther Williams, Digby Diehl. The Million Dollar Mermaid. 2001. pg. 272.

Ben: Radio announcer for the Bob Hope Program, singer, actor, entrepreneur, served in the U.S. Air Force.

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