I remember when That's Entertainment! came out in 1974, the segment that made the biggest impact on everyone I knew was the one profiling the films of Esther Williams. Seeing those swimming extravaganzas on the big screen was an eye-opener. May she rest in peace.
I first saw her in TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME back when a theater in Louisville had a baseball movie week. The next one was in the Andy Hardy film where she stole it with the "kissing test" sequence. These are the only two films I've seen (not counting a few shorts) but I'll try to catch some of her bigger films on TCM when they do the tribute (which I'm sure they'll do).
Outside of BALLGAME I think I've seen two other Williams movies; TEXAS CARNIVAL, which has a good cast but is routine, although Esther's swimming number was somewhat imaginative (when I saw Red Norvo in the cast, I actually watched to see if Charles Mingus was in it but he wasn't), and MILLION DOLLAR MERMAID, which is pretty good.
"Million Dollar Mermaid" was probably Esther's best all-round movie; certainly it required her to bring a greater depth to her acting. Williams was always quick to downplay her acting abilities (and her career in films largely petered-out when her contract with MGM ended in 1955), but I think she's pretty damn good as a "straight" actress in 1956's "The Unguarded Moment".
It really does look like these people would be better represented in today's world considering there aren't many left. I guess we'll have to wait until they pass, which is kinda sad. This is especially true for Rooney who goes back to the silent days and works with an amazing number of legends.