“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” star Jane Russell has died at the age of 89, according to various sources.Russell was known as the brunette Marilyn Monroe with whom she co-starred with in “Blondes”.

Russell was discovered by Howard Hughes and starred in his film “The Outlaws”, filmed in 1941. On the poster, she is shown with her top hanging over her shoulder, exposing not only her shoulder, but cleavage, something that was highly distasteful during the 1940s. In fact, the film was denied release because it violated the Hayes Office code of decency. A toned-down version of the film was finally released in 1943, but between that time, Russell’s name became known country-wide because of the long press tour she underwent to promote the film.

Russell’s big mainstream role was in 1946’s “The Widow”, and she would later star in “The Paleface” (alongside Bob Hope), “Macao” and “His Kind of Woman” (both co-starring Robert Mitchum)”The Las Vegas Story” (co-starring Vincent Price and Victor Mature), “Double Dynamite” (with Groucho Marx and Frank Sinatra) and “The Tall Men” (co-starring Robert Ryan and Clark Gable).

Russell also had a musical career, releasing albums “Let’s Put the Lights Out” and “Jane Russell”. She also recorded singles with Frank Sinatra and toured throughout the world with her nightclub act. She also formed a gospel group with Connie Haines and Beryl Davis.

Sources: IMDB, ScreenCrave

Jane Russell
Jane Russell

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By Monique Jones

Monique Jones blogs about race and culture in entertainment, particularly movies and television. You can read her articles at Racialicious, and her new site, COLOR . You can also listen to her new podcast, What would Monique Say.

One thought on “Jane Russell dies at 89”
  1. JOHN GILMORE: On the morning of Feb. 28th, I was in a breakfast meeting with my publisher and associate, going over notes for the E-book release of my memoir on Marilyn: Inside Marilyn Monroe. They discussed the possibility of a blurb–wondering who's left that I knew, and I said, “Of course, Jane Russell…” I said I'd call her that day (I hadn't talked to her in a quite a while, though a photographer friend had recently snapped several shots of her at a benefit in the Santa Maria area, and had a great time with her). I’d had a number of chats with Jane many years before about Marilyn, and about Jane’s work, but wasn’t until 1982 when I was writing a script for Jean Howard (Charles Feldman’s wife at the time of his death), producing a film, with Curtis Harrington to direct. Most of our meetings were at Jean’s then quiet but once famous party-house at 2000 Coldwater Canyon, Beverly Hills. I’d talked to Jane Russell about her intense desire to do a serious role—she had so much talent, so much ability, and so often complained of being “displaced” in Hollywood. I wanted Jane for the heavily dramatic role in the picture we were going to make, titled INDIANA TWILIGHT, based on a book Feldman had purchased the rights to years before. Though my script was evolving differently (99 times the case); the key roles would be Debbie Reynolds, Patrick McGoohan, and my choice for the co-lead with Reynolds, was Jane Russell. However…(yes, always), Jean Howard was adamant on trying for Liz Taylor. Our budget at the moment would not have covered Taylor’s salary, and I told Harrington I knew Taylor would not want to do the picture anyway, since the Debbie Reynolds role was of equal importance to the one I wanted Jane Russell for.
    As I’d predicated, Liz wasn’t “too keen” on the picture, and according to Jean, suggested eliminating the co-role altogether from the script, or converting it to that of a much older woman—a “kind of Jane Darwell role”, who by then had been dead some fifteen years.
    Jane wasn’t surprised at all when the picture-in-development fell out the window. I remember our conversation (I was living temporarily at the Hollywood’s Villa Carlotta in Luella Parson’s old apartment); it was rainy and the was beating palm leaves against the tall, second story windows of the apartment. I told Jane I was sorry about the movie because I knew Jane’s hopes had been in bloom, but more because I knew she would have delivered a brilliant performance and made the picture a success. Jane said, “It isn’t your fault. We both live our lives under the roof of an old, mean, wicked step-mother witch who has odd priorities we’ll never really get a grip on…”
    Soon as I got back from my Feb. 28, 2011 meeting, intending to contact Jane after a long spell, I instantly discovered she had died earlier that same day, and the moments I heard the news it was like that sound years before of the wind and rain brushing the palm leaves against the window.
    Goodbye, Jane. The world has shrunk a little more without her. Instead of a blurb from Jane, any further edition of the book will be In Memory of Jane Russell.
    A little poem by Marilyn Monroe:
    O, Time,
    Be kind.
    Help this weary being
    To forget what is sad to remember.
    Loose my loneliness,
    Ease my mind,
    While you eat my flesh.

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