Silver screen siren Jane Russell passed away yesterday from a respiratory-related illness at her home in Santa Maria, California, aged 89. Born in Bemidji, Minnesota in 1921, Russell began her career as modelling before studying drama and acting with Max Reinhardt’s Theatrical Worksho. She was quickly signed to a seven year contract by Howard Hughes. She made her motion picture debut in The Outlaw, which was initially denied release due to concerns over the film’s highly sexualised content and finally received a limited release in 1943.
Russell was next seen in 1946’s The Young Widow and she went on to star alongside a host of leading Hollywood men over the next few years including Bob Hope (The Paleface, 1948), Robert Mitchum (His Kind of Woman, 1951; Macao, 1952), Vincent Price (The Las Vegas Story, 1952), Frank Sinatra (Double Dynamite, 1951) and Clark Gable (The Tall Men, 1955), in addition to her collaboration with rising star Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 classic Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Following her screen successes in the 1950s the actress embarked on a musical career and founded the World Adoption International Fund with her first husband Bob Waterfield, making only sporadic screen appearances during the 1960s in titles such as Fate of the Hunter (1964), Johnny Reno (1966), Waco (1966) and The Born Losers (1967). Her her final feature came with 1970’s Darker Than Amber, while later in her career she performed on Broadway and also appeared in the television shows The Yellow Rose (1983-1984) and Hunter (1986).