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Arts & Culture

Rants and Raves: Jane Russell

Jane Russell in "The Outlaw."
Howard Hughes Productions
Jane Russell in "The Outlaw."

Gentlemen Didn't Always Prefer Blondes

We have lost another Hollywood legend. Jane Russell, 89, passed away yesterday. She died on Monday in her home in Santa Maria, California, reportedly from respitory problems following a cold.

We recently lost Tura Satana, another sexy cinematic icon, and now Jane Russell. Both of these women were probably known more for their curves and breathtaking cleavage than for their acting skill. Bob Hope once introduced Russell as "the two and only Jane Russell." Yet what was great about both these women was that despite their sexy image they never let themselves become mere sex objects. Satana mixed a kick-ass sensibility with her sex appeal and Russell blended hers with humor and sass. Just look at the images of Russell from "The Outlaw." She wasn't your standard pin-up, she had attitude and there was no doubt she was selling sex.

She made her famous -- or infamous -- debut in the Howard Hughes produced film "The Outlaw," a film about Billy the Kid. The film was completed in 1941 but was delayed until 1946 because of censorship problems and the way Russell's assets (a 38D-24-36 figure) were presented to the audience. Russell moved on from dramatic work to comedy and may have given her most memorable and defining performance in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" with Marilyn Monroe. This musical number below, "Ain't There Anyone Here For Love," allowed her to display her sense of fun and humor as she winds her way through a maze of hunky men who all ignore her.

Clip: 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes'

She also gained fame as the spokeswoman for the Platex Cross-Your-Heart Bras -- "for us full-figured gals" -- featuring the 18-Hour Bra.

Jane Russell advertising for Platex.
Jane Russell advertising for Platex.

The recent Oscar telecast reminded us of how many talented people we lost last year and sadly this year is already being marked by the loss of two legendary ladies. Jane Russell will be missed. But it's great that film has captured and saved not only her image but her sassy attitude too.

Clip: News footage of Jane Russell