28 February 2011
Yesterday's Beauty Gone Forever
Screen Legend Jane Russell Dead at 89
By Tracey Harrington McCoy Posted Feb 28th 2011 08:40PM
Legendary pinup star Jane Russell died Monday of respiratory failure, the Associated Press reports. She was 89. The screen legend shot to fame in the '40s after starring in Howard Hughes' 1941 western, 'The Outlaw.' She also starred in 1953's 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' alongside Marilyn Monroe.
Russell became a star after Hughes distributed sexy publicity photos of her prior to the release of 'The Outlaw.' She soon became famous as a pinup for World War II GIs.
After 'The Outlaw,' Russell starred in 'The Paleface' opposite Bob Hope in 1948. Her next notable film was 'Gentleman Prefer Blondes.' She and Monroe played friends who seek romance in Paris and sing 'Two Little Girls From Little Rock.' In 2001, Russell spoke of the film, noting that Monroe was five years younger than her and that "it was like working with a little sister."
Russell then filmed the 1954 musical 'The French Line', which was shot in 3D. Its promotional campaign was short and sweet: "J.R. in 3D. Need we say more?"
The screen legend made the sequel 'Gentleman Marry Brunettes' in 1955--this time without Monroe. And she joined Clark Gabel and Jeff Chandler for two Western movies: 'The Tall Men' and 'FoxFire,' respectively. Her career began to falter in the 1960s.
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"Why did I quit movies?" she remarked in 1999. "Because I was getting too old! You couldn't go on acting in those years if you were an actress over 30."
After Russell retired from the screen, she became active in her church and other charitable foundations.
During her years in Hollywood, the screen star was married to pro football player Bob Waterfield. In 1968, their 24-year marriage ended in divorce. She then married actor Roger Barrett--who died three months later of a heart attack. Russell's third and final marriage was to developer John Peoples in 1978. He died in 1999 of heart failure.
"She always said I'm going to die in the saddle, I'm not going to sit at home and become an old woman," Russell's daughter-in-law Etta Waterfield told The Associated Press. "And that's exactly what she did, she died in the saddle."
Survivors include her children, Thomas K. Waterfield, Tracy Foundas and Robert "Buck" Waterfield, six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.