Jane Russell, star of the big screen during the golden era of the 40’s and 50’s has passed away at her home in Santa Maria. She was 89 years old and died as the result of a respiratory related illness.
Her son, Buck Waterfield said in a statement: “Jane Russell passed away peacefully today at home surrounded by her children at her bedside.”
Her first silver screen outing was in The Outlaw, a production put together by Hollywood mogul and multimillionaire producer, Howard Hughes. Hughes discovered her and put straight into the film which was originally set to debut in 1940.
Publicity shots for the film were very risqué for the time, with Russell draped provocatively over a bed of straw wearing a low cut, tight-fitting blouse slipped off one shoulder to accentuate her ample cleavage, while her short skirt had ridden up even higher making her look even leggier. A sultry pout completed the look which caused censors to delay the film’s release for almost three years, eventually hitting the cinemas in 1943.
Throughout her career Russell played alongside Hollywood’s biggest stars of the time. In 1948 she appeared opposite American funny man Bob Hope in the comical The Paleface and further on from that starred next to Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 eternal classic Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She also featured in The Tall Men, the 1955 hit which saw her billed with leading man Clark Gable.
Like so many artists and performers, Russell looked back on her career with some mild regret and disappointment at her achievements. In her autobiography she said: “Except for comedy, I went nowhere in the acting department. The truth is that, more often than not, I’ve been unhappy about the pictures I’ve been in.”
Aside from her film roles her private life saw three marriages come and go; firstly to pro footballer Bob Waterfield, then actor Roger Barrett before finally marrying retired Air Force colonel John Peoples who passed away in 1999. Russell also had her share of personal difficulties including a battle with alcoholism during the 1970’s which she successfully overcame.
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