The voluptuous movie star got her start in Howard Hughes’s ‘The Outlaw,’ and became a pinup girl during World War II
Jane Russell, the voluptuous "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" star who was a sex symbol and pinup girl during World War II, died at home in Santa Maria Monday. She was 89.
She got her start in Howard Hughes' film "The Outlaw" in 1943 and went on to worldwide fame. Russell's last film role was as Alabama Tigress in 1970's "Darker Than Amber."
Howard Hughes signed the actress to a seven-year contract in 1943. It took three years for "The Outlaw" to be released because censors objected to the display of Russell's famous cleavage.
Over the years, she appeared in "His Kind of Woman," "The Las Vegas Story," "Gentlemen Marry Brunettes," "The Paleface," "The Revolt of Mamie Stover," the flop "The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown," "Fate is the Hunter" and "The Born Losers."
For 1953's "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," she was paid $400,000.
In the 1970s, she became the spokeswoman for Playtex bras, calling herself "full figured" on television commercials.
Russell was born Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell in Bemidji, Minnesota. Her family later moved to southern California, and as a teen, she performed in plays at Van Nuys High School.
In her career, she appeared with such stars as Bob Hope, Robert Mitchum, Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable.
She was married three times, to the football player Bob Waterfield, to the actor Roger Barrett and to the real estate broker John Calvin Peoples.
She was the mother of three adopted children, a grandmother of six and a great-grandmother of 10.
Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, March 12 at Pacific Christian Church, 3435 Santa Maria Way, Santa Maria.
Instead of flowers, her family suggests donations be made in her name to Care Net Pregnancy & Resource Center, 121 W. Battles, Santa Maria, CA 93458; or CASA of Santa Barbara County, 120 E. Jones St., Suite 130, Santa Maria, CA 93454.