Screen Legend Jane Russell Dies


Feb. 28 2011, Published 12:00 p.m. ET

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Veteran Hollywood actress Jane Russell has died, aged 89, has learned.

The former pin-up girl turned 1940 and 50’s movie star died of respiratory problems at her home in Santa Maria, central California, according to Etta Waterfield, her daughter-in-law.

Russell shot to fame after her voluptuous assets caught the eye of Howard Hughes, who cast her as his leading lady in his movie The Outlaw.

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But she reached the pinnacle of her movie career when she starred alongside Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 hit comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

In the 1970s Russell made the transition to the stage, starring on Broadway, to critical acclaim, in the musical, Company.

She also secured the lucrative role of spokesperson for Playtex bras, capitalizing on her fuller figure – appearing in national TV commercials for the Cross Your Heart bra campaign.

Russell was married three times, first to LA Rams football star Bob Wakefield in 1943 – 1968 and then to Roger Barrett who tragically died less than three months after their wedding in 1968.

Her third marriage, to real estate broker John Calvin Peoples lasted from 1974 until his death in 1999.

Russell, who was unable to conceive herself adopted three children, daughter Tracy and sons Thomas and Robert. She went on to found the World Adoption International Fund (WAIF), an organization to place children with adoptive families that pioneered adoptions from foreign countries by Americans.

Russell received the Women’s International Center Living Legacy Award in 1989.



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