Known as “The Polka-Dot Girl,” Chili Williams (born Marian Sorenson in 1921) was discovered by a modeling agent in 1943 at Fire Island in New York. The modeling agent’s photographer, Ewing Krainin, took her picture while she was frolicking in the Atlantic Ocean surf, and the series of photos appeared in the September 27, 1943 issue of LIFE Magazine. Krainin had stitched together a black-and-white polka-dot dance-set (which would later come to be known as the “bikini”) for her.
The photos were so well received, that 100,000 fans sent in letters requesting copies, many of which found their way into the hands of homesick GI’s fighting during the final months of World War II. She signed a movie contract in 1944 and moved to Hollywood, California, where she appeared in 17 films, including the wartime favorites Girl Rush (1944), The Falcon In Hollywood (1944), George White’s Scandals (1945), Johnny Angel (1945), Wonder Man (1945), and Having A Wonderful Crime (1945). Chili also joined the Jack Carson USO tour of the Pacific Theater during the winter of 1944-45.
Chili was involved in several scandals including being caught breaking into an ex-boyfriend’s apartment. She eventually quit acting and stayed out of the spotlight until her death in 2003.
Take a look at these glamorous pictures to see her beauty from the 1940s.