Obituaries

Jane Russell, movie sex symbol was 89

jane-russell-hurrell-1941.jpgJane Russell is probably best known as the busty actress whose cleavage Howard Hughes exploited so flagrantly in "The Outlaw" that the movie's release was held up by censors for two years. Her life story, though, runs through several other prominent Los Angeles threads. She grew up in Van Nuys when the Valley was still mostly agricultural: her family had a ranch on Sherman Way near Woodman Avenue. (She was a contender for San Fernando Valley Queen in 1939 — there's a great pic of her and the other hopefuls on page 104 of my book, "The San Fernando Valley: America's Suburb.") She attended Van Nuys High School a couple of years ahead of Norma Jeane Baker, who later of course became Marilyn Monroe. In school, Russell dated and later married the star of the football team, Bob Waterfield. He went on to star for the UCLA Bruins and was the quarterback of the Los Angeles Rams in 1951, the year they won their only championship. Waterfield later was the Rams' coach.

It was in 1940 that Russell signed a seven-year contract with Hughes and began her acting career. She appeared with Marilyn Monroe in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," and co-starred in other films with Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx and Robert Mitchum. She made gospel records, acted on Broadway and became a spokeswoman for Playtex bras. An active Christian in Hollywood through most of her career, she also founded the World Adoption International Fund. Russell's hand and foot prints are in cement in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese; her star is in front of 6850 Hollywood Boulevard. Russell died today in Santa Maria, Calif. IMDb, Wikipedia, LAT

Photo: Russell in 1941, Christies.com


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