Bemidji, Minnesota, USA
Jane Russell's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1997 - L.A. Confidential
1967 - The Born Losers
1955 - Foxfire
1955 - The Tall Men
1953 - Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
1952 - Macao
1952 - Road to Bali
1952 - The Las Vegas Story
1952 - Son of Paleface
1951 - His Kind of Woman
1948 - The Paleface
1943 - The Outlaw
Guest TV Roles
Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell was born on June 21, 1921 in Bemidji, Minnesota. Her father was an US Army lieutenant and her mother had been a student of drama and an actress with a traveling troupe. Once Mr. Russell was mustered out of the service, the family took up residence in Canada, but moved to California when he found employment there. The family was well-to-do and although Jane was the only girl among four brothers, her mother saw to it that she took piano lessons. In addition to music, Jane was interested in drama much as her mother had been and participated in high school stage productions. Upon graduation, Jane took a job as a receptionist for a doctor who specialized in foot disorders. Although she had originally planned on being a designer, her father died and she had to go to work to help the family. Jane modeled on the side and was very much sought-after especially because of her figure.
She managed to save enough money to go to drama school, with the urging of her mother. She was ultimately signed by Howard Hughes (I) for his production of The Outlaw (1943) in 1941, the film that was to make Jane famous. The film wasn't a classic by any means, but was geared to show off Jane's ample physical assets. Although the film was made in 1941, it wasn't released until two years later and then only on a limited basis due to the way the film portrayed Jane's assets. It was hard for the flick to pass the censorship board. Finally, the film gained general release in 1946. The film was a smash at the box-office.
Jane didn't make another film until 1946 when she played Joan Kenwood in Young Widow (1946). She had signed a seven year contract with Hughes and it seemed the only films he would put her in were those that displayed Jane in a very flattering light due to her body. Films such as 1951's His Kind of Woman (1951) and The Las Vegas Story (1952) did nothing to showcase her true acting abilities. Probably the pinnacle of her career was in 1953's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) as Dorothy Shaw, with Marilyn Monroe. This film showed Jane's comedic side very well. Jane did continue to make films throughout the 1950s, but the films were at times not up to par, particularly with Jane's talents being wasted in forgettable movies in order to show off her sexy side. Films such as Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955) and The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1956) did do Jane justice and were able to show exactly the fine actress she was.
After The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown (1957) (a flop) in 1957, Jane took a hiatus from films, to dabble a bit in television, returning in 1964 to film Fate Is the Hunter (1964). Unfortunately, the roles were not there anymore as Jane appeared in only four pictures during the entire decade of the sixties. Her last film of the decade was 1967's The Born Losers (1967). After three more years away from the big screen, she returned to make one last film called Darker Than Amber (1970) in 1970. Her last play before the public was in the 1970s when Jane was a spokesperson for Playtex bras. Had Jane not been wasted during the Hughes years, she could have been a bigger actress than what she was allowed to show.
- A political conservative, she sided publicly with an industry panel that urged the removal of certain provocative scenes in one of her films.
- Her three adopted children are Tracy, Thomas and Buck.
- 'Howard Hughes (I)' (qv) is reported to have said of her stardom, "There are two good reasons why men go to see her. Those are enough." (Source: quoted in the book "The Humour of Sex" by Robert Hale.)
- 'Leonardo DiCaprio' (qv) visited Jane while filming _The Aviator (2004)_ (qv) in order to find up close and personal what 'Howard Hughes (I)' (qv) was really like.
- In 2006 (at age 84), Jane put together a musical show entitled "The Swinging Forties" that plays twice a month at the Radisson Hotel. The show features herself and about a dozen local Santa Maria residents, including a choir director, lay preacher and retired police officer. She formed the show out of boredom and because there was nothing much going on in town for the older folks to do.
- Attended the inauguration of President 'Dwight D. Eisenhower' (qv) in 1953.
- Retired to Santa Maria, California after the death of her third husband in 1999 to be close to her youngest son.
- In 1942, Jane had an affair with actor John Payne. The affair is detailed in her 1986 autobiography, "My Path and My Detours." The affair ended when Jane realized that she was still in love with her high school sweetheart, football player, Robert Waterfield, whom she married in April of 1943 (they divorced in 1967).