Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell was born on June 21, 1921 in Bemidji, Minnesota. Her father was a United States Army lieutenant and her mother had been a student of drama and an actress with a traveling troupe. Once Mr. Russell was mustered out of the service, the family took up residence in Canada, but moved to California when he found employment there. The family was well-to-do and although Jane was the only girl among four brothers, her mother saw to it that she took piano lessons. In addition to music, Jane was interested in drama much as her mother had been and participated in high school stage productions. Upon graduation, Jane took a job as a receptionist for a doctor who specialized in foot disorders. Although she had originally planned on being a designer, her father died and she had to go to work to help the family. Jane modeled on the side and was very much sought-after especially because of her figure.
She managed to save enough money to go to drama school, with the urging of her mother. She was ultimately signed by Howard Hughes for his production of The Outlaw (1943) in 1941, the film that was to make Jane famous. The film was not a classic by any means, but was geared to show off Jane's ample physical assets. Although the film was made in 1941, it was not released until two years later and then only on a limited basis due to the way the film portrayed Jane's assets. It was hard for the flick to pass the censorship board. Finally, the film gained general release in 1946. The film was a smash at the box-office.
Jane did not make another film until 1946 when she played Joan Kenwood in Young Widow (1946). She had signed a seven year contract with Hughes and it seemed the only films he would put her in were those that displayed Jane in a very flattering light due to her body. Films such as His Kind of Woman (1951) and The Las Vegas Story (1952) did nothing to showcase her true acting abilities. Probably the pinnacle of her career was in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) as Dorothy Shaw, with Marilyn Monroe. This film showed Jane's comedic side very well. Jane did continue to make films throughout the 1950s, but the films were at times not up to par, particularly with Jane's talents being wasted in forgettable movies in order to show off her sexy side. Films such as Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955) and The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956) did do Jane justice and were able to show exactly the fine actress she was.
After The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown (1957) (a flop), Jane took a hiatus from films, to dabble a little in television, returning in 1964 to film Fate Is the Hunter (1964). Unfortunately, the roles were not there anymore as Jane appeared in only four pictures during the entire decade of the 1960s. Her last film of the decade was The Born Losers (1967). After three more years away from the big screen, she returned to make one last film called Darker Than Amber (1970). Her last play before the public was in the 1970s when Jane was a spokesperson for Playtex bras. Had Jane not been wasted during the Hughes years, she could have been a bigger actress than what she was allowed to show. Jane Russell died at age 89 of respiratory failure on February 28, 2011 in Santa Maria, California.
|John Calvin Peoples||(31 January 1974 - 9 April 1999) (his death)|
|Roger Barrett||(25 August 1968 - 18 November 1968) (his death)|
|Bob Waterfield||(24 April 1943 - 30 July 1968) (divorced) 3 children|
Natural brunette hair
Deep sultry voice
Received the Women's International Center (WIC) Living Legacy Award in 1989.
Howard Hughes, in addition to designing airplanes, is said to have designed a "cantilever bra" to take care of her physical endowments.
Went to Van Nuys High School (Los Angeles).
In the early 1950s, she made a television commercial for Lustre Creme's shampoo campaign.
She and husband Bob Waterfield adopted a baby girl, Tracy, on February 15, 1952.
She and husband Bob Waterfield adopted a 15-month-old British boy, Tommy Kavanaugh, in December 1952.
First husband Bob Waterfield was her high school sweetheart.
Through her organization, World Adoption International Fund (WAIF), Russell has placed 51,000 children with adoptive families.
Her breasts are the namesake for 'The Jane Russell Peaks' in Alaska.
On 2 February 1967, Russell filed for divorce from Bob Waterfield; it was granted in July 1968.
Bob Hope once introduced her as "the two and only Jane Russell".
In 1955, she and husband Bob Waterfield formed Russ-Field Productions. Under this banner, they made Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955), The King and Four Queens (1956), Run for the Sun (1956), and The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown (1957).
Married John Calvin Peoples in a "kaftan" ceremony in Santa Barbara, California.
A born-again Christian decades before the term was coined, she held weekly Bible study at her home which was attended by some of the industry's biggest names.
Unable to bear children, Russell championed the passage of the Federal Orphan Adoption Amendment of 1953, which allowed children of American servicemen born overseas to be placed for adoption in the United States.
Howard Hughes is reported to have said of her stardom, "There are two good reasons why men go to see her. Those are enough." (Source: quoted in the book "The Humour of Sex" by Robert Hale.)
Her three adopted children are Tracy Waterfield, Thomas Waterfield and Buck Waterfield.
Attended the inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953.
In 2006 (at age 84), Jane put together a musical show entitled "The Swinging Forties" that plays twice a month at the Radisson Hotel. The show features herself and about a dozen local Santa Maria residents, including a choir director, lay preacher and retired police officer. She formed the show out of boredom and because there was nothing much going on in town for the older folks to do.
The troops in Korea named two embattled hills in her honor.
A political conservative, she sided publicly with an industry panel that urged the removal of certain provocative scenes in one of her films.
Has macular degeneration and wears hearing aids in both ears.
Retired to Santa Maria, California after the death of her third husband in 1999 to be close to her youngest son.
Jane was a tomboy as a little girl. She had four brothers: Tom, Kenny, Jamie and Wally.
Profiled in "Killer Tomatoes: Fifteen Tough Film Dames" by Ray Hagen and Laura Wagner (McFarland, 2004).
A longtime pro-life activist, she opposes the use of abortion in any circumstance including rape or incest.
Member of America's Future.
Has been a vocal supporter of the Iraq war since its beginning in March 2003.
Has a street named after her in Iowa City, Iowa.
In 1942, Jane had an affair with actor John Payne. The affair is detailed in her 1986 autobiography, "My Path and My Detours". The affair ended when Jane realized that she was still in love with her high school sweetheart, football player Bob Waterfield, whom she married in April 1943 (they divorced in 1967).
Although rumors circulated that she was buried at Santa Barbara Cemetery, she was in fact cremated at Santa Barbara Cemetery and her ashes were scattered at sea.
Has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6850 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
"Yes, Howard Hughes invented a bra for me. Or, he tried to. And one of the seamless ones like they have now. He was way ahead of his time. But I never wore it in The Outlaw (1943). And he never knew. He wasn't going to take my clothes off to check if I had it on. I just told him I did".
Publicity can be terrible. But only if you don't have any.
Sometimes the photographers would pose me in a low-necked nightgown and tell me to bend down and pick up the pails. They were not shooting the pails.
The girl with the summer-hot lips... and the winter-cold heart.
The music these kids play nowadays, it's nothing but screaming and pounding drums! You can't hear the words, and that's just as well, because the words stink!
Asked why modern Hollywood is so liberal: "I think the Sixties have happened between when I was there and now. A lot of the actors and actresses, their parents were Sixties people and they just have a Democratic left wing - they flipped."
I have always been a Republican, and when I was in Hollywood long ago, most of the people there were Republican. The studio heads were all Republican, my boss Howard Hughes was a raving Republican, and we had a motion picture code in those days so they couldn't do all this naughty stuff. We had John Wayne, we had Charlton Heston, we had man named Ronald Reagan, we had Robert Mitchum, James Stewart, Clark Gable.
My son said, 'Mother you can't say the word bigot because that has to do with nationalities and things.' I said, 'No darling, it's a verb. It means I can't stand these people who are trying to take the Ten Commandments off the wall, take prayer out of school and take prayer out of football games.' It's too ridiculous. The Lord put this country together or we wouldn't be like we are.
"These days I am a teetotal, mean-spirited, right-wing, narrow-minded, conservative Christian bigot, but not a racist." (2003)
People should never, ever have an abortion. Don't talk to me about it being a woman's right to choose what she does with her own body. The choice is between life and death.
Describing her shock at finding herself pregnant at eighteen: "The only solution was to find a quack and get an abortion. I had a botched abortion and it was terrible. Afterwards my own doctor said, 'What butcher did this to you?' I had to be taken to hospital. I was so ill I nearly died. I've never known pain like it."
I want to save America. I do not want a one-world order, a one-world government, at all. I think that our Founding Fathers had exactly the right idea, and we've got a great country, and let's go back to God. (2001)
I've been working a lot to get the Bible back in schools because I think a great deal of our loss of wisdom as a society results from the fact that a lot of children have never read the Bible. I've been helping Elizabeth Ridenour [of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools] get the Bible back in school by going on television shows for her. She's gotten it into 38 states and 117 school districts, and as a result of this effort 60,000 children have now been able to read the Bible.
I liked Condoleezza Rice. And Ann Coulter was great. She was so strong and forceful. But people kept asking me, 'You're from Hollywood. Why are you here?' I very much wanted to tell them, as a whole group, that in my day Hollywood was Republican. All the heads of the studios were Republicans, and we were fighting communism. You had John Wayne and Charlton Heston and myself and Bob Mitchum, and President Ronald Reagan came right out of that same group. There were a few Democrats in Hollywood, but we thought they were crazy.
Music has gone just as bananas as the movies. But kids are learning swing and going back to the music of the forties. There's a swing club near my home in Santa Barbara, and the kids are fantastic. There's no drinking, no smoking, just dancing all night long.
My father was a Republican, and he couldn't stand what Franklin D. Roosevelt was doing to the country. I always say I'm a mean-spirited narrow-minded right-wing, conservative Christian ... I start out with that, and if you don't like it, you can lump it. I am not politically correct.
I can't tell you how distressed I've been during the past seven years of the Clinton Administration, with one cheap and tawdry scandal erupting after another. And I thought Hollywood was bad! I was particularly disgusted by the radical feminists who tried to excuse the President's misbehavior, even as the testimony of his victims accumulated and it turned out that they weren't all 'little girls from Little Rock.' Apparently the poor soul doesn't know any better and just can't say no. It's been a terrible example for our young people. Even worse than the debasement of the office of the presidency and of greater concern is the damage that's been done to our national security by the Clinton Administration's lax policies and by its deliberate transfer of sensitive missile technology to China while at the same time accepting campaign contributions from that foreign power. Instead of looking forward to a century of peace at the beginning of the new millennium, we now face the very real prospect of World War III. Our military readiness has dropped fifty percent since Clinton took office and our soldiers are frantic. (2000)
It was always an accident; I wish I could take some of the credit. My mother used to say, 'You have a path from heaven and if you fall off of it, it'll be a problem, Jane.' It was always the case where no matter what way I wanted to go, the Lord wanted me to go this way.
I really think the 1940s were the best generation for Hollywood. Everybody was patriotic then. Nobody was talking the way they do now, against the soldiers. It was a different era, a different Hollywood then, and we respected our country, our leaders and our fighting men. Sure, I'll admit, I'm a mean-spirited, politically conservative old actress. I'm not bigoted against any race, just those idiots who want to spit on our soldiers' hard work or remove the Ten Commandments from our schools and courtroom walls.
[on her Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) co-star Marilyn Monroe] She once got her life so balled up that the studio hired a full-time secretary maid for her. So Marilyn soon got the secretary as balled up as she was, and she ended up waiting on the secretary, instead of vice-versa.
|The Outlaw (1943)||$50 a week|
|Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)||$400,000|
(February 2006) Santa Maria, California: Press conference held by the local County Sheriff to announce his intention to run for a second term
(1985) Release of her book, "Jane Russell: My Path and My Detours: An Autobiography".
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