As per our current Database, Jane Russell died on Feb 28, 2011 (age 89).
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|170 cm (5' 7'')||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Star of the Howard Hughes-directed film The Outlaw. Jane Russell received additional fame for her roles in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Son of Paleface.
Russell co-starred with Clark Gable in The Tall Men (1955) at 20th Century Fox, one of the most popular films of the year, with earnings of $6 million.
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Jane married Bob Waterfield in 1943 and the couple divorced in 1968.
Jane Russell worked as a receptionist after graduating high school.
Russell was born on June 21, 1921, in Bemidji, Minnesota. She was the eldest child and only daughter of the five children of Geraldine (née Jacobi) and Roy William Russell. Her brothers are Thomas, Kenneth, Jamie, and Wallace.
In 1940, Russell was signed to a seven-year contract by film mogul Howard Hughes, and made her motion-picture debut in The Outlaw (1943), a story about Billy the Kid that went to great lengths to showcase her voluptuous figure.
The movie was completed in 1941, but it was not released until 1943 in a limited release. Problems occurred with the censorship of the production code over the way her ample cleavage was displayed in promotion of the film.
When the movie was finally passed, it had a general release in 1946. During that time, Russell was kept busy doing publicity and became known nationally. Contrary to countless incorrect reports in the media since the release of The Outlaw, Russell did not wear the specially designed underwire bra that Howard Hughes had designed and made for her to wear during filming. According to Jane's 1985 autobiography, she said that the bra was so uncomfortable that she secretly discarded it and wore her own bra with the cups padded with tissue and the straps pulled up to elevate her breasts.
In 1947, Russell attempted to launch a musical career. She sang with the Kay Kyser Orchestra on radio, and recorded two singles with his band, "As Long As I Live" and "Boin-n-n-ng!" She also cut a 78 rpm album that year for Columbia Records, Let's Put Out the Lights, which included eight torch ballads and cover art that included a diaphanous gown that for once put the focus more on her legs than on her breasts.
Russell shot Montana Belle for Fidelity Pictures in 1948, playing Belle Starr. The film was intended to be released by Republic Pictures, but the producer sold the film to RKO, who released it in 1952.
At that studio, Russell co-starred with Groucho Marx and Frank Sinatra in a musical comedy, Double Dynamite, shot in 1948 and released in 1951. It was a critical and commercial failure.
Hughes cast Russell opposite Robert Mitchum and Vincent Price in His Kind of Woman (1951), a film noir originally directed by John Farrow in 1950 which would be reshot by Richard Fleischer the following year.
In February 1952, Russell and Waterfield adopted a baby girl, whom they named Tracy. In December 1952, they adopted a 15-month-old boy, Thomas, whose birth mother, Hannah McDermott, had moved to London to escape poverty in Northern Ireland, and, in 1956, they adopted a nine-month-old boy, Robert John. In 1955, she founded Waif, an organization to place children with adoptive families, and which pioneered adoptions from foreign countries by Americans. At the height of her career, Russell started the "Hollywood Christian Group", a weekly Bible study at her home which was attended by many of the leading names in the film industry.
In 1953, Russell and her first husband, former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Bob Waterfield, formed Russ-Field Productions. In March 1954, they signed a six-picture deal with United Artists to last over three years; Russell only had to appear in three of the films.
In 1953, she tried to convert Marilyn Monroe during the filming of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; Monroe later said, "Jane tried to convert me (to religion), and I tried to introduce her to Freud". Russell appeared occasionally on the Praise the Lord program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, a Christian television channel based in Costa Mesa, California.
Back at RKO, she was in Howard Hughes's production The French Line (1954), a musical. The movie's penultimate moment showed Russell in a form-fitting one-piece bathing suit with strategic cutouts, performing a then-provocative musical number titled "Lookin' for Trouble". In her autobiography, Russell said that the revealing outfit was an alternative to Hughes' original suggestion of a bikini, a very racy choice for a movie costume in 1954. Russell said that she initially wore the bikini in front of her "horrified" movie crew while "feeling very naked." The movie earned $3 million.
Hughes also produced Underwater! (1955), an adventure film with Russell and Richard Egan at RKO. It made $2 million but because of its large cost was a financial flop. Her contract with Hughes ended in February 1954.
On the musical front, Russell formed a gospel quartet in 1954, with three other members of a faith-sharing group called the Hollywood Christian Group. The other original members were Connie Haines, Beryl Davis and Della Russell. Haines was a former vocalist in the Harry James and Tommy Dorsey orchestras, while Davis was a British emigrant who had moved to the United States after success entertaining American troops stationed in England during World War II. Della Russell was the wife of crooner Andy Russell. Backed by an orchestra conducted by Lyn Murray, their choral single "Do Lord" reached number 27 on the Billboard singles chart in May 1954, selling two million copies. Della Russell, no relation to Jane, soon left the group, but Jane, Haines and Davis followed up with a trio LP for Capitol Records, The Magic of Believing. Later, another Hollywood bombshell, Rhonda Fleming, joined them for more gospel recordings. The Capitol LP was issued on CD in 2008, in a package that also included the choral singles by the original quartet and two tracks with Fleming replacing Della Russell. A collection of some of Russell's gospel and secular recordings was issued on CD in Britain in 2005, and it includes more secular recordings, including Russell's spoken-word performances of Hollywood Riding Hood and Hollywood Cinderella backed by a jazz group that featured Terry Gibbs and Tony Scott.
Russell was referenced in a 1956 episode of The Honeymooners. Ralph Kramden (played by Jackie Gleason) arrives home "dead" tired, vowing to go straight to bed after dinner, quipping, "You couldn’t get me out of this house tonight if you told me that Jane Russell was runnin’ a party upstairs and she couldn’t get started until I arrived!" Later, Kramden becomes aware that his best friend and neighbor, Ed Norton, is in fact throwing a party upstairs and did not invite him. After being reminded by his wife, Alice, of his reluctance to attend even a party that Jane Russell was throwing, an insulted Kramden rants, "I was talking about Jane Russell: I said nothing about any party that Norton's running!"
In October 1957, she debuted in a successful solo nightclub act at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. She also fulfilled later engagements in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America and Europe. A self-titled solo LP was issued on MGM Records in 1959. It was reissued on CD in 2009 under the title Fine and Dandy, and the CD included some demo and soundtrack recordings, as well. "I finally got to make a record the way I wanted to make it," she said of the MGM album in the liner notes to the CD reissue. In 1959, she debuted with a tour of Janus in New England, performed in Skylark and also starred in Bells Are Ringing at the Westchester Town House in Yonkers, New York.
Russell made her first movie appearance in a number of years in Fate Is the Hunter (1964), in which she was seen as herself performing for the USO in a flashback sequence. She was second-billed in two Westerns, Johnny Reno (1966) and Waco (1966), and starred in Cauliflower Cupids, filmed in 1966 but not released until 1970. She had a character role in The Born Losers (1967) and Darker Than Amber (1970).
Russell was married three times, first to Bob Waterfield, from 1943 until their divorce in July 1968. He was a UCLA All-American, Cleveland Rams quarterback, Los Angeles Rams quarterback, Los Angeles Rams head coach, and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Two months after their divorce Russell married actor Roger Barrett; he died of a heart attack only two months later in November 1968. She married real-estate broker John Calvin Peoples on January 31, 1974, living with him until his death from heart failure on April 9, 1999. In the late 1970s, Russell and Peoples moved to Sedona, Arizona, where they owned Dude's nightclub, and Russell revived her nightclub act. They spent the majority of their married life residing in Montecito, California.
In 1971, Russell starred in the musical drama Company, making her debut on Broadway in the role of Joanne, succeeding Elaine Stritch. Russell performed the role of Joanne for almost six months.
In 1989, Russell received the Women's International Center Living Legacy Award. Her handprints and footprints are immortalized at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6850 Hollywood Boulevard. Russell was voted one of the 40 Most Iconic Movie Goddesses of all time in 2009 by Glamour (UK edition).
Russell moved into television, appearing in episodes of Colgate Theatre, Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, Death Valley Days and The Red Skelton Hour. In 1999, she remarked, "Why did I quit movies? Because I was getting too old! You couldn't go on acting in those years if you were an actress over 30."
Russell was a prominent supporter of the Republican Party, and attended Dwight D. Eisenhower's inauguration, along with such other notables from Hollywood as Lou Costello, Dick Powell, June Allyson, Hugh O'Brian, Anita Louise and Louella Parsons. She was a recovering alcoholic who had gone into rehab at the age of 79, and described herself in a 2003 interview, saying, "These days, I am a teetotal, mean-spirited, right-wing, narrow-minded, conservative Christian bigot, but not a racist."
In a 2009 interview for the liner notes to another CD, Fine and Dandy, Russell denounced the Columbia album as "horrible and boring to listen to." It was reissued on CD in 2002, in a package that also included the Kyser singles and two songs she recorded for Columbia in 1949 that had gone unreleased at the time. In 1950, she recorded a single, "Kisses and Tears", with Frank Sinatra and The Modernaires for Columbia.
Russell resided in the Santa Maria Valley along the Central Coast of California. She died at her home in Santa Maria of a respiratory-related illness on February 28, 2011. Her funeral was held on March 12, 2011, at Pacific Christian Church, Santa Maria.
Happy 99th Birthday Jane Russell
Today is the 99th birthday of the actress Jane Russell. She pushed boundaries, and she did what she loved for her entire life. The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the …