Jane Russell only made 25 films in a career lasting many decades, yet she is a name every classic film fan knows. Perhaps because of her long association with Howard Hughes, or her legendary partnering with Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Personally, I’m a fan because there are four of her films I can watch anytime and always enjoy – His Kind of Woman, Macao, The Las Vegas Story and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – all made in the period of the early 50s.
Christina Rice’s biography is thorough and detailed about Jane’s life – her three marriages, her adopted children and her long personal contract with Howard Hughes.
Hughes wanted unknowns for Billy the Kid and the Mexican girl ‘Rio’ in “The Outlaw”. Jane’s contract started at $50 per week, going up to $400 at the end of five years. He took over direction of the film from Howard Hawks ( The book’ s title – ‘Mean….Moody ….Magnificent’ comes from “The Outlaw” tagline . ).
Typical of Howard Hughes, “The Outlaw” started filming in December 1940 and only got a limited release in 1946! ( the worldwide release wasn’t until 1950).
I’ve included some pictures below, not from the book , which has hardly any stills, but mainly on the set photos.
Jane certainly deserves this history of her life and career . I’d have liked more detail about her movies ( which makes me think of the “Films of…” publications , with some biographical facts, but no one seems to be doing that format any more.)
Jane wrote her autobiography in 1985, ‘Jane Russell, My Paths and Detours’.( which is still available on Amazon).
Christina Rice is a librarian and archivist at Los Angeles Public Library. She previously wrote “Ann Dvorak, Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel.”which I reviewed in 2013.
Wouldn’t we have loved to see Jane taking over from Elaine Stritch in Company. She was well received by the press. Vivian Blaine finished the run and went on the tour opposite George Chakiris.
She also did Pal Joey and Mame.
I loved her: so down-to-earth and rather whimsical somehow. Had no idea she’d done Pal Joey, one of my favorites. I can certainly imagine her in Company singing “The Ladies Who Lunch”!
I actually saw Jane in person in 1982 at the London Palladium at a concert called “Stairway to the Stars”. Jane sang ‘Button and Bows’ and “Bye Bye Baby’. I wrote about the show in 2013 – “Reminiscing “.
I had forgotten all about that. I was there too. For me Dorothy L’amour stole the show. Despite being a little frail and with a voice showing signs of wear she was sheer magic.
A magical evening. Such a shame it wasn’t filmed though there is an audio recording.
I also like The Revolt of Mamie Stover which showcases some of her best acting and her chemistry with Richard Egan was quite hot.
Always liked Richard Egan.
HIS KIND OF WOMAN is such a bizarre movie. But it’s bizarre in a good way. I like it a lot. I think MACAO is underrated. GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES was of course sensational.
THE LAS VEGAS STORY sounds like the sort of movie I’d love but sadly it seems to be one of those unobtainable movies, apart from a pricey Italian DVD release.
Three of my favourites, plus of course Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
THE LAS VEGAS STORY was shown a couple of times fairly recently on TCM, I think within the last two or three years. My memory of it is that it’s also bizarre in a good way. I think it can be seen online.
4-5-22 Just watched “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” on TCM. Russell and Monroe were great together. The music, costumes, dance numbers and “happy” ending could not have been better for this 88 year old retired school administrator. Dr.Y.
It’s a great movie. Thanks for dropping by. Hope you find some more classic movies to enjoy.