Jane Russell (born June 21, 1921) is an American actress and former sex symbol.
Her parents were both born in North Dakota. Three of her grandparents were born in Canada, while her paternal grandmother was born in Germany. Her parents married in 1917. Her father was a former commissioned First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and her mother was a former actress with a road troupe. Her parents spent the early years of their marriage in Edmonton, Alberta CANADA. For her birth her mother temporarily moved back to the U.S. to ensure she was born a U.S. citizen. Later the family moved to the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. They lived in Burbank in 1930 and her father worked as an office manager at a soap manufacturing plant.
Jane's mother arranged for her to take piano lessons. In addition to music, she was interested in drama and participated in stage productions at Van Nuys High School. Her early ambition was to be a designer of some kind, until the death of her father at forty-six, when she decided to work as a receptionist after graduation. She also modeled for photographers and, at the urging of her mother, studied drama and acting with Max Reinhardt's Theatrical Workshop and with famed Russian actress Maria Ouspenskaya.
Together with Lana Turner and Rita Hayworth, Russell personified the sensuously contoured sweater girl look, though Jane Russell's measurements of 38D-24-36 and height of 5' 7" were more statuesque than her contemporaries. Besides the thousands of quips from radio comedians, including Bob Hope once introducing her as "the two and only Jane Russell," the photo of her on a haystack glowering with sulking beauty and youthful sensuality as her breasts push forcefully against her bodice was a popular pin-up with Service men during World War II.
Though The Outlaw was not a spectacular Western, it did well at the box-office. It appeared that Hughes was only interested in her being cast in movies that showcased her sensational figure, however, reportedly refusing an offer from Darryl Zanuck for her to play Doña Sol in Blood and Sand. She was not in another movie until 1946, when she played Joan Kenwood in Young Widow for RKO. Though her early movies did little to show her true acting abilities, they helped parlay her into a career portraying smart, often cynical, tough "broads," with a wisecracking attitude.
In 1947, Russell attempted to launch a musical career, recording a single with the Kay Kyser Orchestra, "As Long As I Live".
She went on to perform with proficiency in an assortment of roles, which included playing Calamity Jane opposite Bob Hope in The Paleface (1948) on loan out to Paramount; and Mike Delroy opposite Hope in Son of Paleface (1952), again at Paramount.
She appeared in two movies opposite Robert Mitchum, His Kind of Woman (1951) and Macao (1952). Other co-stars include Frank Sinatra and Groucho Marx in the comedy Double Dynamite (1951); Victor Mature, Vincent Price and Hoagy Carmichael in The Las Vegas Story (1952); Jeff Chandler in Foxfire (1955); and Clark Gable and Robert Ryan in The Tall Men (1955).
In Howard Hughes' RKO production The French Line (1954), the movie's penultimate moment showed Russell in a form-fitting one-piece bathing suit with strategic cut outs, 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."
Russell and her first husband, former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Bob Waterfield, formed Russ-Field Productions in 1955. They produced Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955), The King and Four Queens (1956) starring Clark Gable and Eleanor Parker, Run for the Sun (1956) and The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown (1957).
Her performances in Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, opposite Jeanne Crain, and in the drama The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956) displayed her fine acting ability. But after making The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown (1957), which failed at the box-office, she did not appear on the silver screen again for seven years.
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 U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America and Europe.
In the Summer of 1961, she debuted with a tour of Janus in New England. In the fall of 1961, she performed in Skylark at the Drury Lane Theatre, Chicago. And in November 1962, she performed in Bells Are Ringing at the Westchester Town House in Yonkers, New York.
Her next movie appearance came in Fate Is the Hunter (1964), in which she was seen as herself performing for the USO in a flashback sequence. Unfortunately, she made only four more movies after that, playing character parts in the final two.
In 1971, she starred in the musical drama Company on Broadway, replacing Elaine Stritch. Russell performed the role of Joanne in the play for six months. Also in the 1970s, she started appearing in television commercials as a spokeswoman for Playtex "cross your heart bras for us full-figured gals," featuring the "18-hour bra."
She wrote an autobiography in 1985, Jane Russell: My Path and My Detours. In 1989, she received the Women's International Center (WIC) Living Legacy Award.
Jane Russell's hand and foot prints are immortalized in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theater and she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6850 Hollywood Boulevard.
Russell was portrayed by Renee Henderson in the 2001 CBS mini-series Blonde, based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oates and portrayed leaving her imprints at Grauman's along with Marilyn Monroe in the HBO film Norma Jean & Marilyn starring Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino.
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