Tuesday, 1 March 2011
hall of dames #21 - jane russell
it saddens me that this must be a posthumous induction to the hall of dames, as miss Russell passed away yesterday in her Santa Maria home, at the age of 89. let's take a moment to remember the extraordinary contributions of this breathtaking beauty and consummate comedienne.
Jane was born Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell on June 21, 1921 in Bemidji, Minnesota. three of Jane's four grandparents were Canadian, so we have the great white north to thank! she had originally wanted to be a designer, but took a job as a receptionist after her father passed away, which helped her save the necessary funds to study drama - something she had been interested in since highschool. Howard Hughes would discover her while she was working as a secretary at his dentist's office, and cast her in her first film: The Outlaw (1943). the film was made to highlight Jane's sex appeal more than her acting abilities, thus beginning her rise as a prominent sex symbol of the 40s and 50s.
Hughes signed Russell to a seven year contract, during which most of the films she would star in concentrated more on her genetic assetts than her talent. it wasn't until 1953 that Jane had a chance to display her natural comedic flare, opposite Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. during the 1950s, films like Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955) and The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956) finally allowed Jane to show the world what a fine actress she indeed was.
Russell, who made over 20 films in her career, made fewer and fewer throughout the 1960s, and the 1970s found her not as a movie star, but as a spokeswoman for Playtex bras. Jane's ample breasts are actually the namesake for 'The Jane Russell Peaks' in Alaska, and the troops in Korea named two embattled hills in Russell's honour. Howard Hughes, designer of airplanes, once designed a bra for Jane and is reported to have said of her stardom: "There are two good reasons why men go to see her. Those are enough." what a pig. :)
Jane was thrice married. first, to highschool sweetheart and football hall-o-famer Bob Waterfield from 1943 to 1968. the couple adopted three children over the course of their marriage - Tracy, Thomas and John. Russell, who was unable to have children due to a botched abortion at the age of 18, founded World Adoption International Fund (WAIF) in 1955, an organization that pioneered adoption from foreign countries by Americans.
after divorcing Waterfield in 1968, Jane married actor Roger Barrett in August of that same year. the two remained married until his death just 3 months later. Jane's third husband was real-estate broker John Calvin Peoples. they were married from January, 1974 until his death in April, 1999.
Jane has long been an outspoken republican, pro-life activist and born again Christian - but hey, nobody's perfect. [just kiddin around folks. please don't leave me nasty comments. i got nothin but love for Jane, despite our political differences.] you can read all about her in her autobiography, published in 1985: Jane Russell: My Path and My Detours. and just because it exists, here's a picture of the great Jane Russell as she appears next to the king...