|Birth Date:||1887 7, df=yes|
|Birth Place:||Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia|
|Death Place:||Southport, Queensland, Australia|
|Resting Place:||Great Barrier Reef|
|Other Names:||Annette Marie Sarah Kellerman|
|Known For:||Swimmer, Actress, Writer, Inventor of Synchronised Swimming, Pioneer of women's swimwear|
|Education:||Mentone Girls' Grammar School|
|Occupation:||Swimmer, Actress, Writer|
|Spouse:||James Raymond Louis Sullivan (1912-1975)|
Annette Kellerman (6 July 1887, Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia - 5 November 1975, Southport, Queensland, Australia) was an Australian professional swimmer, vaudeville and film star, writer, and advocate for the change of women's swimwear.
She is often credited for inventing the sport of synchronised swimming after her 1907 performance of the first water ballet in a glass tank at the New York Hippodrome. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Annette Marie Sarah Kellerman was born in Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia on 6 July 1887, to Australian-born violinist Frederick William Kellerman and his French wife, Alice Ellen Charbonnet, a pianist and music teacher.
At the age of 6, a weakness in Kellerman's legs necessitated the wearing of painful steel braces to strengthen them. In order to further overcome her disability, her parents enrolled her in swim classes at Cavill's baths in Sydney. By the age of 13, her legs were practically normal, and by 15, she had mastered all the swimming strokes and won her first race. At this time she was also giving diving displays.
In 1902, Kellerman decided to take her swimming seriously and subsequently won the ladies' 100 yards and mile championships of New South Wales in the record times of 1 minute, 22 seconds and 33 minutes, 49 seconds respectively. In that same year, her parents decided to move to Melbourne, and she was enrolled at Mentone Girls' Grammar School where her mother had accepted a music teaching position.
During her time at school, Kellerman gave exhibitions of swimming and diving at the main Melbourne baths, performed a mermaid act at Princes Court entertainment centre and did two shows a day swimming with fish in a glass tank at the Exhibition Aquarium. In June-July 1903 she performed in the Coogee scene of Bland Holt's spectacular, The Breaking of the Drought, at the Theatre Royal.
On 24 August 1905, aged 18, Annette Kellerman became the first woman to attempt to swim the English Channel. After three unsuccessful swims she declared "I had the endurance but not the brute strength".
Kellerman was famous for her advocacy of the right of women to wear a one-piece bathing suit, which was a controversial topic in the early 20th century.
In the early 1900s, women were expected to wear cumbersome dress and pantaloon combinations when swimming. In 1907, at the height of her popularity, Kellerman was arrested on a Boston beach for indecency - she was wearing one of her fitted one-piece costumes.http://www.liveandlearn.com.au/Dawn/54/herstorykellerman54.htm
The popularity of her one piece suits resulted in her own line of women's swimwear. The "Annette Kellermans" as they were known, were the first step to modern swimwear. In 1908, after conducting a study of 3000 women, Dr Dudley A. Sargent of Harvard University dubbed her the Perfect Woman because of the similarity of her physical attributes to the Venus de Milo.
In 1916, Kellerman became the first major actress to do a nude scene when she appeared fully nude in A Daughter of the Gods. Made by Fox Film Corporation, Daughter of the Gods was the first million-dollar film production. As with many of Annette Kellerman's films, this is now considered a lost film and no copies are known to exist.
The majority of Kellerman's films were aquatic adventure in theme. She performed her own stunts including diving from ninety-two feet into the sea and sixty feet into a pool of crocodiles. Many times she would play mermaids named Annette or variations of her own name. Her "fairy tale films" as she called them started with the 1911 film The Mermaid. With this film, she became the first actress to wear a swimmable mermaid costume on film, paving the way for future screen sirens such as Glynis Johns, Esther Williams and Daryl Hannah. She designed her own mermaid swimming costumes and sometimes made them herself. Similar designs are still used by The Weeki Wachee Springs Mermaids including her aquatic fairy costume first introduced in her 1918 film Queen of the Sea. In 2006 the aquatic costume company MermaidFX created and sold mermaid costumes based on Annette's original designs. The company also holds a large private collection of footage, photos and other memorabilia relating to her film career.
Extensive research by amateur film fan Mary Ann Cade in 2004 discovered many individual prints in archives worldwide of Kellerman films presumed lost. A list of the found films and their locations can be found at http://www.silentsaregolden.com/articles/lostfilmsarticle.html.
Kellerman appeared in one of the last films made in Prizma Color, Venus of the South Seas (1924), a U. S./New Zealand co-production where one reel of the 55-minute film was in color and underwater. Venus of the South Seas, restored by the Library of Congress in 2004, is the only feature film starring Annette Kellerman known to exist in its complete form.
In addition to her film and stage career, Kellerman wrote several books including How To Swim (1918), Physical Beauty: How to Keep It (1919), a book of children's stories titled Fairy Tales of the South Seas (1926) and My Story, an unpublished autobiography. She also wrote numerous mail order booklets on health, beauty and fitness.
A lifelong vegetarian, Kellerman owned a health food store in Long Beach, California. She and her husband returned to live in Australia in 1970, and in 1974 she was honoured by the International Swimming Hall of Fame at Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She remained active well into old age continuing to swim and exercise until a short time before her death.
Predeceased by her husband, Annette Kellerman died in hospital at Southport, Queensland, Australia on 5 November 1975, aged 88 and was cremated with Roman Catholic rites. Her remains were scattered in the Great Barrier Reef. She had no children.
Kellerman's large collection of costumes and theatrical memorabilia was bequeathed to the Sydney Opera House. Today, Many of her original costumes and personal items are held by the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia.
An award winning Australian documentary called The Original Mermaid about Annette Kellerman was produced in 2002.