Million Dollar Mermaid: Annette Kellerman, an exhibition featuring stunning costumes, memorabilia and movie footage relating to Australian celebrity swimmer Annette Kellerman (1886–1975) is now open.
Born in Sydney, Kellerman first attracted attention with a series of epic, long-distance swims, and later found international fame as a highly paid entertainer of the vaudeville stage and a star of American silent films.
At a time when female bathers were expected to wear several cumbersome garments, she advocated a practical one-piece swimsuit and encouraged women to enjoy swimming and exercise. She became a trailblazer for the ‘new woman’, pioneering women’s high diving and paving the way for synchronised swimming.
In films such as Neptune’s Daughter (1914) she played a bold, fearless heroine and performed dangerous stunts. Esther Williams portrayed Annette Kellerman in MGM’s spectacular film, Million Dollar Mermaid (1952).
Exhibition highlights include a spectacular mermaid costume from Million Dollar Mermaid and various styles of one-piece swimsuits worn by Kellerman.
Image: State Library of NSW, MLMSS6270