6 items from 2011
When Jane Russell died at home earlier this week at the age of 89 from respiratory failure, it was the passing of a Hollywood myth. Not a legend, but a myth, for the Jane Russell we remember, the images of Jane Russell we carry in our heads, were wholly Hollywood magic: making us believe in something that wasn’t really there. Consider: Russell’s obits all use the same words — “sex symbol,” “provocative,” “sensual,” “pinup girl.” For the viewing public, she was all these things, and that was Hollywood smoke-and-mirrors at its best, for the woman behind the image that steamed up camera lenses and burned through movie screens and left many an American male tossing and turning restlessly in his bed after a night at the movies was, in the end – as they used to say in her day – a good girl.
Without taking anything away from her, that she »
- Bill Mesce
Silver screen siren Jane Russell passed away yesterday from a respiratory-related illness at her home in Santa Maria, California, aged 89. Born in Bemidji, Minnesota in 1921, Russell began her career as modelling before studying drama and acting with Max Reinhardt's Theatrical Worksho. She was quickly signed to a seven year contract by Howard Hughes. She made her motion picture debut in The Outlaw, which was initially denied release due to concerns over the film's highly sexualised content and finally received a limited release in 1943.
Russell was next seen in 1946's The Young Widow and she went on to star alongside a host of leading Hollywood men over the next few years including Bob Hope (The Paleface, 1948), Robert Mitchum (His Kind of Woman, 1951; Macao, 1952), Vincent Price (The Las Vegas Story, 1952), Frank Sinatra (Double Dynamite, 1951) and Clark Gable (The Tall Men, 1955), in addition to her collaboration with rising star Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 classic Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. »
Her sensational, provocative debut in Howard Hughes’ ‘The Outlaw’ scandalized 1940s America, breaking barriers on censorship and revolutionizing the movies forever. She then became the most famous bra spokeswoman in the world!
Jane Russell, the buxom beauty who shot to stardom with her stunning cleavage-baring debut in Howard Hughes’ The Outlaw, has died at age 89. She was the bodacious Hollywood star who paved the way for the buxom beauties who followed, from Marilyn Monroe to Beyonce!
The now-iconic poster for her first movie, made after Jane was just discovered working in a doctor’s office at just 19, featured the young Minnesota-born actress in a revealing blouse that bared one shoulder — and made film censors queasy. Legend has it that Hughes designed a specially engineered bra for her 38-d breasts. But Jane always said she never wore the contraption!
After The Outlaw, Jane, who made her mark by poking fun at »
Jane Russell, one of Hollywood’s most memorable sex symbols from the 1940s and 1950s who starred in films such as the The Outlaw and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, died today at her home in Santa Maria, Calif., of a respiratory illness, the Associated Press has confirmed. She was 89 years old.
The Minnesota-born actress was originally discovered by eccentric movie mogul and billionaire Howard Hughes when he signed her to a seven-year contract and cast her in the Billy the Kid pic Outlaw, which rocketed her to near-overnight fame and caused controversy because of the cleavage she showed in the film. »
- Tanner Stransky
28 February 2011 4:31 PM, PST | IMDb News
Jane Russell, the voluptuous actress known for her roles in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and The Outlaw along with her lifelong work as an advocate for adoption, passed away today in Santa Maria, CA. She was 89.
She was born Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell on June 21, 1921 in Bemidji, Minnesota, the eldest of five children and the only daughter of Roy, an Army lieutenant and Geraldine, an actress. After her father's retirement from the Army and acceptance of a job in California, the family relocated to California's San Fernando Valley and eventually Burbank. She spent her teen years taking piano lessons (at her mother's insistence) and grew interested in theater, joining the drama club at Van Nuys High School and taking part in productions there. Her plan to become a designer after graduation was dashed after the death of her father, when she instead found a job as a secretary and receptionist in order to help support her family. At her mother's urging, she continued to hone her skills with training at stage director Max Reinhart's School of the Theatre, and made additional money working as model.
Her dramatic studies, combined with good fortune -- she was reportedly discovered while working at her receptionist job -- brought Jane to the attention of Howard Hughes, who signed her to a seven-year contract in 1940 after a protracted search for a woman to star in his next project, The Outlaw. The movie, which completed filming in February of 1941, was denied release because it violated the Hayes Office production codes for decency (they were unhappy with the display of Russell's cleavage). While Hughes and the Hayes Office negotiated cuts to the film, Russell was sent on an extensive tour to promote the unreleased picture; her tour, combined with provocative ads and photos promoting the film, put her on the national radar, and a limited release of the trimmed down film in 1943 (along with a wider release in 1946) made her a star. Also in 1943, Jane married Bob Waterfield, her high school sweetheart, who was the UCLA quarterback at the time and who would go on to become a Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback for the Cleveland Rams/Los Angeles Rams.
Jane's next film appearance was five years later, in 1946 with RKO's The Young Widow, which was the first time that she would be seen by most filmgoers, since The Outlaw was still tied up in Hayes Code violations. Her following films found her cast with some of the most popular leading men of the time -- Bob Hope in 1948's The Paleface; two incendiary pairings with Robert Mitchum (His Kind of Woman, Macao); co-starring with Victor Mature and Vincent Price in The Las Vegas Story, with Frank Sinatra and Groucho Marx in 1951's Double Dynamite, and with Clark Gable and Robert Ryan in The Tall Men (1955).
However, it would be her co-starring role with another popular leading lady of time for which she would be most commonly remembered: as Dorothy Shaw in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, with rising star Marilyn Monroe. The pair, cast as two showgirl best friends sailing to Paris to find husbands, redefined the musical with their comedic, overtly sensual stylings and became real-life friends in the process.
As Jane continued to expand her film resume through the mid 1950s, she and her husband Bob continued to build their life together. Unable to have children of their own, they chose to adopt, bringing Tracy and Thomas in 1952, and Robert in 1956, into their family. The adoption struggles the couple faced inspired Jane to found the World Adoption International Fund, which assisted in simplifying the adoption process for over 50,000 families as well as lobbying for the passage of 1953's Federal Orphan Adoption Bill and 1980's Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act.
Jane's already-busy offscreen life included time spent building her musical career; beside her albums 'Let's Put Out the Lights' and 'Jane Russell' and singles recorded with the likes of Frank Sinatra, she would also appear in her own solo nightclub act that toured around the world, and later formed a gospel group with Connie Haines and Beryl Davis that released a single that reached number 27 on the Billboard chart.
As her film roles became less notable - her last being in 1970's Darker Than Amber - Jane returned to the stage, where she appeared in both Broadway and regional productions, and also appeared in TV series The Yellow Rose and Hunter. Her marriage to Bob Waterfield ended in divorce in 1968; she was married twice more, to Roger Barrett (August-November 1968) and to John Calvin Peoples (from 1974 until his death in 1999).
She is survived by her children Tracy, Thomas and Robert. »
- Heather Campbell
Jane Russell, the voluptuous "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" star who was a sex symbol and pinup girl during World War II, died at home in Santa Maria Monday. She was 89. She got her start in Howard Hughes' film "The Outlaw" in 1943 and went on to worldwide fame. Russell's last film role was as Alabama Tigress in 1970's "Darker Than Amber." Howard Hughes signed the actress to a seven-year contract in 1943. It took three years for "The Outlaw" to be released because censors objected to the display of Russell's famous cleavage. Over the »
- Joshua L. Weinstein
6 items from 2011
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