Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Jane Russell 1921 - 2011

Jane Russell, whose voluptuous good looks won the attention of millionaire Howard Hughes and launched her on a movie career, died Monday of respiratory failure at her home in Santa Maria, California. She was 89.

Generally cast in fluff films like 1943’s The Outlaw that showed off her well-endowed beauty, Russell reached the pinnacle of her career with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), starring in the comedy with Marilyn Monroe.

Although best known for her figure, Russell showed a comic sensibility in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and again with Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955) and The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956). Nevertheless, most of her movie roles were designed around her towering physicality and frontal amplitude.

"Frontal amplitude". Have to remember to use that one in conversation soon.

During the 1970s, Russell was widely recognized as the spokesperson for Playtex bras, appearing in national TV commercials for the “Cross Your Heart” bra campaign.

That's how I remember her; with that tape measure worn as a bandolier on those old teevee commercials.

She lived the would-be-starlet's dream: discovered by a famous director at the dentist's office, used what she had (which, depending on your POV, was either not very much or a whole helluva lot) to get ahead in show business, and always let the men know she was in on the joke -- which was on them.

Rest in peace, Ms. Russell.

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