Jane Russell, the iconic star from Hollywood’s Golden Age, has died. She’s best known for her memorable performances in The Outlaw, Macao, The Paleface, and Gentleman Prefer Blondes.
Born in Minnesota, Jane grew up in Burbank. Like your blogger, she attended Van Nuys High School. At the urging of her mom, Russell studied drama from Maria Ouspenskaya (the Gypsy in The Wolfman).
Howard Hughes signed Russell to a seven-year contract in 1940. Her first movie was an issue with censors, and not because of its plot. Her ample cleavage was the source of the controversy. Hughes used the stir to his advantage while promoting the film. The Outlaw was released in 1946, and Jane Russell became an overnight sensation. She suddenly retired from cinema in 1970.
Away from the silver screen, Russell married Los Angeles Ram’s quarterback, Bob Waterfield (also a Van Nuys High graduate). In 1955, she founded the World Adoption International Fund, an organization to place children with families that pioneered adoptions from foreign countries by Americans. She also became a popular spokesperson for Playtex.
A highlight in her career was to have her hands and feet placed in cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre with Marilyn Monroe in 1953. Russell also has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. She spent her later years in Santa Maria.
Jane Russell was 89.
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