Posts Tagged ‘Jane Russell’

Legendary Pinup – Jane Russell Dies aged 89

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Jane Russell, the legendary actress and pin up beauty who helped push the envelope in onscreen sensuality died on Monday at the age of 89.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Russell had suffered from respiratory problems and died after a short illness.

Her first role was in 1943’s Howard Hughes production –  “The Outlaw,” that played up her sexuality in a marketing campaign that focused on her voluptuous figure.

Born Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell on June 21, 1921, in Bemidji, Minnesota, she moved to Southern California with her family.

After working as a part-time model after graduating from high school, she was discovered by one of Hughes’ casting agents who were on the look out for a beauty with a curvy figure to play Billy the Kid’s love interest Rio McDonald in “The Outlaw.”

Hughes took such an interest in her that he fired director Howard Hawks and got personally involved and went so far as to design a “cantilever” bra to emphasize her assets, but Russell refused to wear it.

Joe Breen, who was in charge of enforcing the strict production code which forbade such overt portrayals of erotic situations and material. He said at the time that he’d never seen “anything quite so unacceptable as the shots of the breasts of the character of Rio,” which he said were “shockingly emphasized.”

Hughes refused to cut some of the more provocative shots of Russell as Breen had demanded, playing up the controversy in the ad campaign with the haystack poster and taglines such as “How Would You Like to Tussle with Russell?” After being re-released in 1946 without code approval, the movie made millions and made Russell a Star.

Although she went on to star in another 18 movies, Russell’s only notable part was as Marilyn Monroe’s sidekick in the 1953 legendary farce “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

Russell went on to play in nightclubs and 1940s-style revues well into her 80s.

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