Remembering Jane Russell

Jane Russell was born June 21st in 1921, Minnesota. She came from an acting background as her mother had also studied drama and was an actress with a travelling troupe.

Once the family had moved to California following her father leaving the US Army, it become apparent that Jane had been as interested in acting as her mother had been as she took part in many high school productions. After her graduation, her father passed away and she had to work as a receptionist to help her family, modelling on the side.

Finally, after raising enough money to go to drama school, Howard Hughes signed her on to star in The Outlaw, sadly not to showcase her acting abilities but her physical assets. It would be this film that brought Jane fame.

The film was followed by lots of controversy as it was only allowed to be showed by the censorship board two years after it was due to be released because of the fact that all the posters showed a lot of cleavage, Russell herself said:

“They held up The Outlaw for five years. And Howard Hughes had me doing publicity for it everyday, five days a week for five years.”

Finally, in 1946, the film was granted general release and was a box-office smash.

Jane didn’t make another movie for several years due to signing a seven year contract with Hughes, which although brought box office success did nothing to boost her persona as a serious actress. Then, after starring in ‘Young Widow’, ‘His Kind of Woman’, and ‘The Las Vegas Story’, in 1953 Jane signed on to the movie that is the second most synonymous with Russell and showed off her comedic talent, ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’.

Russell carried on making movies afterward but none of them seemed to match the same level of talent and promise she showed in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’. It’s a common belief that if Jane had been given roles that showed her abilities as an actress instead of films that exploited her, although she will be forever remembered because of her status as a sex symbol, she could quite possibly have been one of the best actresses of that decade.

Russell was extremely religious, sometime appearing on the ‘Praise the Lord’ programme on Trinity Broadcasting Network, and a supporter of the Republicans, being quoted saying:

“These days I am a teetotal, mean-spirited, right-wing, narrow-minded conservative Christian bigot, but definitely not a racist.”

Due to a backstreet abortion when she was 18, she couldn’t have children, so instead adopted three children, Tracy, Thomas, and Robert, and in 1955 she founded the World Adoption International Fund (WAIF).

Jane Russell will be remembered as many things, a sex symbol, some might even remember her as a heavily religious republican bigot, but it is undoubtable that Jane Russell, personal beliefs aside, was nothing more or less than a Hollywood legend.