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Jane Russell

Jane Russell

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Also Known As: Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell Died: February 28, 2011
Born: June 21, 1921 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Bemidji, Minnesota, USA Profession: actor, singer, model, receptionist

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Made virtually synonymous with voluptuousness by Hollywood publicists and press in the 1940s and 1950s, Jane Russell's talents as a dramatic actress and musical performer were given significantly less attention than her statuesque figure. She was brought to fame by Howard Hughes, who made a fetish of her image in the controversial B-Western "The Outlaw" (1943). Russell smoldered quite spectacularly on screen, but showed a particular knack for both a wisecrack and a song, as demonstrated in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (1953) and other musicals. She was teamed to great effect on several occasions with Bob Hope in such films as "The Paleface" (1948) and with Robert Mitchum in "His Kind of Woman" (1951), both of which gave her ample opportunity to poke fun at her sexualized screen persona. She left Hollywood in the mid-1960s for sporadic work on stage and in commercials; the latter gave her a third-act boost of fame as the spokesperson for Playtex's bras for "full-figured gals." One of the last of the true Hollywood bombshells - blonde or otherwise - Russell's highly-sexualized screen persona overshadowed a consummate professional, under-appreciated for her talents and commitment to her craft. ...

Made virtually synonymous with voluptuousness by Hollywood publicists and press in the 1940s and 1950s, Jane Russell's talents as a dramatic actress and musical performer were given significantly less attention than her statuesque figure. She was brought to fame by Howard Hughes, who made a fetish of her image in the controversial B-Western "The Outlaw" (1943). Russell smoldered quite spectacularly on screen, but showed a particular knack for both a wisecrack and a song, as demonstrated in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (1953) and other musicals. She was teamed to great effect on several occasions with Bob Hope in such films as "The Paleface" (1948) and with Robert Mitchum in "His Kind of Woman" (1951), both of which gave her ample opportunity to poke fun at her sexualized screen persona. She left Hollywood in the mid-1960s for sporadic work on stage and in commercials; the latter gave her a third-act boost of fame as the spokesperson for Playtex's bras for "full-figured gals." One of the last of the true Hollywood bombshells - blonde or otherwise - Russell's highly-sexualized screen persona overshadowed a consummate professional, under-appreciated for her talents and commitment to her craft.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Darker Than Amber (1970) Alabama Tiger
3.
 The Born Losers (1967) Mrs. Shorn
4.
 Waco (1966) Jill Stone
5.
 Johnny Reno (1966) Nona Williams
6.
 Fate Is the Hunter (1964) Herself, guest star
7.
 The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown (1957) Laurel Stevens
8.
 Hot Blood (1956) Annie Caldash
9.
 The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956) Mamie Stover
10.
 Foxfire (1955) Amanda [Lawrence Dartland]
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1932:
Family moved to Van Nuys after father received promotion
1939:
Signed to a seven-year contract by film mogul Howard Hughes
1943:
Made her film debut in "The Outlaw"; film completed in 1941, and released for a limited showing two years later; had a general release in 1946
1943:
Moved with first husband Bob Waterfield to Georgia when he was drafted; put on suspension by Hughes
1946:
Re-established professional relationship with Hughes; loaned to United Artists to star in "The Young Widow"
1946:
Was well-received in singing stints at the Latin Quarter Club in Miami Beach and on Kay Kyser's "Kollege of Fun and Knowledge" musical program
1948:
Enjoyed first genuine success onscreen in "The Paleface" oppposite Bob Hope
1950:
Performed stage act in London and New York City
1953:
Enjoyed biggest box office success of her career with "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," co-starring Marilyn Monroe
1954:
Weathered censorship scandal surrounding two scenes (one in a bubble bath, the other a dance number) from "The French Line"
1954:
Formed Russ-Field Productions with her husband Bob Waterfield as executive producer
1954:
Recorded several religious-themed singles and albums with Beryl Davis, Connie Haines and Della Russell (no relation; later replaced by Rhonda Fleming); billed themselves as "The Four Girls"; performed on nightclub circuit and on TV for several years
1955:
Negotiated new contract to make five films for Hughes; was to be paid $1000 per week for 20 years
1957:
Made last feature film for seven years, the unsuccessful "The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown"
1957:
Debuted in a successful solo nightclub act at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas
1959:
Released a self-titled solo album with MGM Records
:
Appeared in summer stock and regional theater in such plays as "Janus," "Skylark" and "Bells Are Ringing"
1964:
Returned to film for featured role in "Fate is the Hunter"
1970:
Last film to date, "Darker Than Amber"
1971:
Made Broadway debut as a replacement for Elaine Stritch in "Company"
:
Made a long series of TV commercials in the 1970s for the Playtex "Cross Your Heart" bra
1985:
Wrote her autobiography, <i>Jane Russell: My Path and My Detours</i>
1983:
Played Rose Hollister on the primetime TV drama, "The Yellow Rose" (NBC)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Van Nuys High School: Van Nuys , California -
Max Reinhardt's Theatrical Workshop: Los Angeles , California - 1940

Notes

James Robert Parish has characterized certain aspects of Russell's star persona, performance style and personality as follows: "tough babe with a heart of gold, a liberated female who still craves to be dominated by a right guy, a former small-town innocent who has drifted into the morally ambiguous world of show business and now has the scars to prove her apprenticeship. What distinguished Jane's screen presence was her marvelously unpretentious attitude. She is totally un-self-conscious about her too-well-proportioned torso, equally unimpressed by her thrush abilities (modest as they are), and plainly aware that she may not be the most intellectual broad around town, and she is totally well intentioned." (Quoted from "The RKO Gals", Arlington House, 1974)

Evidence of Howard Hughes's bosom fixation may be found in such remarks about Russell as "There are two reasons why men will pay to see her." Hughes was not alone, however, in making sarcastic remarks about Russell's cleavage. Bob Hope, for instance, once introduced her as "the two and only Jane Russell".

The trailer for the 1955 Jane Russell-Cornel Wilde film, "Hot Blood" sported the following opening line over a shot of Russell doing a "gypsy" dance: "Jane Russell shakes her tambourines and drives Cornel wild!" --quoted in The Hollywood Reporter, September 24, 1991.

In 1956, co-founded (with Irene Dunne, Loretta Young, and June Allyson) WAIF, an adoption organization that seeks to place older, handicapped, foreign-born and minority children with adoptive families.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Bob Waterfield. Football player, coach. Played quarterback professionally for the Cleveland Rams, later became coach of the Los Angeles Rams; highschool sweethearts; married on April 24, 1943; Russell filed for divorce February 2, 1967 and received final decree in July 1968; Russell received custody of two older children and Waterfield received the youngest child; died in 1983.
husband:
Roger Barrett. Actor. Born c. 1921; met while doing stock work together in Niles, Michigan; married on August 25, 1968; died of a heart attack on November 17, 1968.
husband:
John Calvin Peoples. Business executive. Born c. 1925; married from January 31, 1974 until his death in 1999.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Roy William Russell. Office manager, businessman. Died in 1937 after a gallstone operation.
mother:
Geraldine Russell. Actor, speech and drama teacher.
brother:
Thomas Russell. Born in 1924.
brother:
Kenneth Russell. Born in 1925.
brother:
Jamie Russell. Born in 1927.
brother:
Wallace Russell. Born in 1929.
daughter:
Tracy Waterfield. Adopted as newborn on February 15, 1952.
son:
Thomas Waterfield. Adopted as infant in December 1952.
son:
Robert John Waterfield Jr. Adopted when nine months old in 1956.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"My Path and Detours"

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