Death of a star
Hollywood legend Russell dead at 89
JANE Russell, famed for eyepopping curves and stunning beauty t hat made her t he screen siren of choice for a generation of American troops at war, died on Monday aged 89, her family said.
‘‘I did speak with her daughter-in-law this morning, and she did die peacefully at home, with her kids all around her,’’ said Kim Davis, executive director of CASA, a child advocacy group in Santa Barbara, California with which the star had been associated.
The Gentlemen Prefer Blondes star was discovered by chance when producer Howard Hughes spotted her working as a receptionist at his dentist’s office, just as he was seeking a heroine for his new film, The
The 1943 movie launched Russell’s career, and her repu- tation as a sex symbol, with its sensuous poster depicted significantly more of her ample assets than was considered seemly at the time.
While the film, a nd t he controversy surrounding it, catapulted Russell into the public eye, she was not unfamiliar with the entertainment industry. Her mother belonged to a travelling troupe of actors and Russell s t udied piano and theatre, including with famous Russian actress Maria Ouspenskaia, and modelled before being discovered by Hughes.
Born Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell on June 21, 1921 in Minnesota, she was the eldest of her parents’ five children, and their only daughter. The family later moved to Burbank, California, and her father, a former soldier, died at 46, be- fore Russell’s career took off.
The Outlaw, in which her seemingly never-ending legs and large bosom dominated the screen, propelled Russell into the world of Hollywood as a screen siren with an aura of scandal. Censors expressed concern about the cleavage on display in the movie, forcing Hughes to cut feet of film.
And while it got a brief release in 1943, the movie didn’t get a full release until 1946, when it was a box office smash.
‘‘ There was absolutely nothing wrong with the picture,’’ Russell later told Christianity
Today in an interview that emphasised her religious faith.’’
Russell’s status as an iconic sex symbol was being cemented by young American soldiers deployed abroad during World War II, who pinned up sultry pictures of the actress in their barracks.
Among the most famous was the poster for Outlaw, which featured Russell reclining on a haystack with her skirt hitched up near her hips.
Jane Russell in a scene from the 1943 western movie The Outlaw