Death of a star

Hol­ly­wood le­gend Rus­sell dead at 89

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today -

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

Out­law.

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

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