Annette Kellerman the Diving Venus poster

A poster featuring Annette Kellerman in a one piece bathing suit
Annette Kellerman the Diving Venus poster
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Lithograph print by ABC Co., Cleveland Ohio, unknown artist.

Champion swimmer, fitness entrepreneur and movie star, Sydney-born Annette Kellerman (b. 1886) was a fearless pioneer and not shy of controversy. Credited with being the first woman to appear nude on screen – in the 3-hour epic A Daughter of the Gods (Herbert Brenon, USA, 1916) – she was also one of the first to adopt the revolutionary one-piece swimming costume. 

By 1907, at age 20, Annette was already an international vaudeville star. Her underwater ballet routine and high diving acts into a glass tank were a hit in London, New York, Boston and Chicago. Her popularity was quickly seized upon by a burgeoning new industry – motion pictures.

Her first four films were produced in 1909 by the Vitagraph Company of America based in Brooklyn, New York. This extremely rare poster for the short film Miss Annette Kellerman features the star in a one-piece costume that reveals her strong and shapely figure. She was dubbed 'the Perfectly Formed Woman' by the New York Times in 1912 but is widely known as ‘The Million Dollar Mermaid’, a nickname she gained after the box-office hit Neptune's Daughter (Herbert Brenon, USA, 1914).

This poster is on display in The Library at the NFSA in Canberra.

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