August 13th 2007 05:05
"Publicity can be terrible. But only if you don't have any." – Jane Russell
Jane Russell, is the voluptuous brunette Bombshell who’s ample bosoms (38D) caught the attention of the eccentric RKO studio head Howard Hughes. Famously making her silver screen debut in the risqué western The Outlaw (1941) which exploited all her attributes and vexed censors. Once released the film was a Box office smash, immediately establishing Jane as a celebrity.
"There are two good reasons why men go to see her. Those are enough." – Howard Hughes on Jane’s appeal.
A WWII pinup ogled by males all over the globe, Russell was more head strong and conservative than her image ever projected. She had no allusions about what earnt her fame but was determined to capitalize on it.
"Sometimes the photographers would pose me in a low-necked nightgown and tell me to bend down and pick up the pails. They were not shooting the pails.” – Jane Russell
Her early career under RKO contract did little but promote the bouncy twins, despite the actresses desire to be taken seriously. Playing a femme fatale in the noir His Kind of Woman which co starred the laid back pot smoking Robert Mitchum was a highlight, though she was defiantly on camera for sex appeal. (See The Paleface, The Las Vegas Story and Road to Bali etc for proof)
Best remembered for her 1953 part opposite Marilyn Monroe in Howard Hawks’ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes which showcased her comedic talents and finally captured on screen the essence of a gifted performer rather than just physical assets.
Working steadily through the 50’s, the period was the pinnacle of her career with starring roles in Gentlemen Marry Brunettes and the Director Raoul Walsh double The Tall Men and The Revolt of Mamie Stover proving her skill as an entertainer.
Still the dominate parts were empty roles in B grade material with only one thing on its mind. A typical example being John Sturges (Magnificent 7, Great Escape) action adventure Underwater which sold itself on the promise of Jane all wet in a swimsuit.
The 1960’s were less kind and the big screen star made few features instead slumming it on TV to maintain her profile. By 1970 she had enough and it was 13 years before she worked again, on the small screen only.
Jane Russell’s life was dictated by her beauty but the feisty glamour icon has deservedly earned a place in cinema history as one of the more tragic figures who were chewed up by the system because shallow studio heads never saw past the surface.
"These days I am a teetotal, mean-spirited, right-wing, narrow-minded, conservative Christian bigot, but not a racist." – Jane Russell in 2003
A Scene from Outlaw
Here’s Jane singing and dancing “Ain't There Anyone Here For Love?” from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes….with plenty for the girls too.
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