The death of Jane Russell at the age of 89 has robbed Hollywood of one of its most legendary pin-ups. The Minnesota-born actress and hoofer was spotted modelling in 1940 by eccentric millionaire Howard Hawks who signed her up to a seven-year contract and immediately cast her in The Outlaw under the tag- line: "how'd you like to tussle with Russell?".
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Though she was never acclaimed on the acting front, Jane Russell made some 20 Hollywood movies throughout her career including The Paleface (1948), opposite Bob Hope; His Kind of Woman (1951), opposite Robert Mitchum and, most famously, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) opposite Marilyn Monroe. The success of that last film (Russell's finest hour) led to both stars having their hand and foot prints immortalised in cement opposite Grauman's Chinese Theater.
Away from the screen, Jane Russell, who was married three times and adopted three children, was well known for her efforts on behalf of American families hoping to adopt children from overseas. She established the World Adoption International Fund in 1955 and was also heavily involved in Hollywood Christian Groups. Though she retired from the big screen in 1970, she became a well known figure on American TV throughout that decade as the official spokeswoman for Playtex.
But it's as one of Hollywood's most endearing pin-ups that Jane Russell will be forever remembered, a woman of whom Bob Hope once quipped, "culture is the ability to describe Jane Russell without moving your hands."