2008 Jane Russell was in her 80s in this pic so I’ll go easy on her. She is unrecognizable but certainly hot for an old broad. Jayne was the black-haired bombshell to Marilyn Monroe’s blonde. She was a major 1940s and 1950s sex symbol. Isn’t that a stupid expression? Sex symbol. Her first film role, The Outlaw was in 1943. After starring in multiple films in the 1950s, Jane, thinking she could sing (not) dabbled in music while working on several other films in the 1960s. She starred in over 20 films throughout her career.
video: The Outlaw
Some of her more notable flicks included The Las Vegas Story, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, a major flop at the box office…unlike Joan Crawford she managed not to be labelled box office poison, (see my blog Joan Crawford – Mommie Dearest), Hot Blood, Johnny Reno and The Born Losers. I haven’t heard of most of these flicks either but I guess they rocked in their day. Jane’s last film, Darker than Amber, was filmed in 1970. That was when her career nosedived. There was a late 2007 documentary Hollywood on Fire on her film roster but I doubt she made an appearance. Likely there was a brief profile about her.
video: Gentlemen Marry Brunettes **warning** painful
video: Jayne Russell: 1959
video: Jane Russell Burlesque
For their performance in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes both Marilyn and Jane received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
video: Jayne Russell and Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
That’s where it gets tawdry.
Well, more like tragic.
Abortion was illegal in the 40s and during this time Jane had her first “back-street abortion” at 18. After a succession of other abortions (god knows how many … I guess contraceptives weren’t too effective in the 50s) she was unable to have children (surprise) and adopted three children. We hope her stepchildren fared a lot better than Joan Crawford’s, psycho-mom. Jane struggled with an alcohol addiction for much of her career. Ho-hum. Same old. These celebrities. Tsk, tsk.
video: Jane Russell talks about her battle with alcoholism
Years later Jaye discussed why she disappeared from film stating, “why did I quit movies? Because I was getting too old! You couldn’t go on acting in those years if you were an actress over 30.” There was probably some truth to that but a number of actresses during that era did work into their senior years in increasingly challenging roles including Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Faye Dunaway, Vivien Leigh and numerous others. Certainly Jane had the option to work but perhaps didn’t want to lose her bombshell image. Vanity, thy name is Jane. After retiring from film work Jane appeared in a few commercials and game shows (egad).
video: 1980 Jane Russell Playtex Bra & Girdle Commercial
video: What’s My Line – Jane Russell
video: Jane Russell Dies at 89