Jane Russell, the bodacious beauty discovered by movie producer Howard Hughes and who held her own against the iconic Marilyn Monroe, died yesterday at the age of 89.
Russell’s family said she was in good health, but caught a cold and died of respiratory problems.
Russell was well-known for her role in Hughes’ 1940s movie, “Outlaw,” a film about a romance between Billy the Kid and a woman named Rio, the role Russell played. The film was only released in certain venues because censors at the time were nervous about the attention given Russell’s figure. She also starred with Monroe in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” and the sequel, “Gentlemen Marry Brunettes.” Russell’s beauty and curves are said to have made brunettes sexy; she became a popular pinup for World War II soldiers. After Russell’s movie career, she was a spokeswoman for Playtex bras, and an adoption advocate.
Geri Brin, our genConnect expert on being stylish and fabulous over 50, says Russell made a splash with her style and verve, and Brin often thought of the actress as “the dark Marilyn Monroe, without the wispy voice.”
Russell “wore her sex appeal with panache: creamy white shoulders bared under casually dropped bodice straps, ample cleavage peeking from a dress’s décolletage, legs that went on forever in a dress slit,” says Brin, founder of faboverfifty.com. ”She didn’t simply walk into a room. She’d glide, stride and make certain everyone knew she had arrived.
“Her hair was her trademark, strategically cascading over one ear and tucked behind the other. It didn’t matter if she could act, sing and dance. We came to see her style.”
Russell will truly be missed.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made in honor of Jane Russell to:
Care Net Pregnancy & Resource Center
121 W. Battles
Santa Maria, CA 93458
CASA of Santa Barbara County
120 E. Jones Street, Ste. 130
Santa Maria, CA 93454
www.sbcasa.org for online donations
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