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Closing Credits: Jane Russell

JaneRussell.jpgThe legendary Jane Russell died yesterday leaving behind her some iconic roles and images, audiences of changed men, supported women, and adopted children.

She's undoubtedly most remembered for her starring role in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes alongside Marilyn Monroe and for those striking Hollywood images, yet there's so much more to the woman.

It's rather surprising that Jane Russell is the big Hollywood icon that she is with only twenty-nine films to her career and just a handful that most will remember her for. Indeed some might not even know about her break into the industry in the film The Outlaw in 1943 which raised a lot of controversy.

She was chosen by Howard Hughes, the legendary millionaire industrialist who ran a production company, to play the leading role in the film which took two years to achieve a limited release and a further three years to gain a general release. The reason was the sexuality portrayed in the film and the way that Russell herself was portrayed in the marketing and the film.

Despite being a sex symbol and signing for seven years with the producer who continued to market her this way she delivered some great performances and still managed to show her true talent.

Russell was interested in the stage from an early age and modelled in order to raise enough money to go to stage school, and her big break came with Hughes' search for a voluptuous woman to sign and make a star. He did just that.

The Paleface in 1948 marked a different side to her career, appearing with Bob Hope and enjoying the comedic role much more than her previous films with Hughes, and while it's easy to pigeon hole and dismiss those films, she was a good actress and delivered some strong roles standing tall against some great male leads such as Robert Mitchum and Clark Gable whom she appeared with in The Tall Men in 1955, a film that was much more intelligent than most in her previous career.

Her big role was undoubtedly Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1953 delivering a fantastic performance along with Marilyn Monroe as sisterly showgirls in a truly classic film. She even starred in sequels of sorts to both these big films, Gentlemen Marry Brunettes in 1955 and Son of Paleface in 1952.

There's much more to her than her films though, and the excellent obituary in The Guardian shows just that. Spokesperson for Playtex bras may be one she's remembered for, but her work to adopt children sets her apart from her career, not only the three she adopted but also the thirty seven thousand plus children her organisation WAIF helped to find a home.

Much more than an iconic Hollywood star and sex symbol, Jane Russell will be remembered for those early images and those iconic and very different roles in The Outlaw, The Paleface and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

The thoughts of Filmstalker and the readers are with her family and friends.

Actress, Hollywood Icon and campaigner
Jane Russell



Apart from the trashiness of today's "superstars" they all lack what Jane Russell had in spades: star quality. Last Sunday, at the Oscars, most of those ladies looked like some Mary Smiths who had just washed their hair but didn't have time to blow dry. All of them are interchangeable. Jane Russell was unique. RIP


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