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, Calif. 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.
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.
Although Russell made only a handful of films after the 1960s, she had remained active in her church, with charitable organizations and with a local singing group until her health began to decline just a couple weeks ago, said her daughter-in-law, Etta Waterfield.
She had a pretty good run at 89 and her name is forever associated with Hollywood golden age beauty.