Jane Russell, a movie star in the best sense of the word, passed away today in Santa Maria, California, with her family at her side.
Jane was, quite simply, a great gal. Whether she was drawing laughs opposite Bob Hope in THE PALEFACE (1948) and SON OF PALEFACE (1952), sparring with her lifelong close friend Robert Mitchum in HIS KIND OF WOMAN (1951) and MACAO (1952), or trading wisecracks and singing with Marilyn Monroe in GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (1953), Russell lit up the screen, adding fun to any movie in which she appeared. Most recently I enjoyed her playing herself, entertaining at an army camp in a flashback sequence in FATE IS THE HUNTER (1964).
I also admired the way Russell lived her life off the screen. She was forthright about her Christian faith and equally frank about her pro-life views. Unable to have children due to an abortion as a young woman, she adopted three children and founded World Adoption International Fund (WAIF), which helped thousands of children around the world find homes.
In 1985 Russell published an autobiography, MY PATH AND MY DETOURS. There's also an excellent chapter on Russell in KILLER TOMATOES, by Laura Wagner and Ray Hagen.
Last summer I linked to both a Movietone News birthday tribute to the actress and Fluttering Ivy Media's "My Evening With Jane Russell." Both are well worth revisiting. (Update: At Movietone News Matthew has now posted "Goodbye, Jane.")
Obituaries have been published by the Los Angeles Times, Hollywood Reporter, CNN, and the Santa Maria Times.
Blogs paying tribute include Out of the Past, The Self-Styled Siren, 50 Westerns from the 50s, and Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy. I'm sure there will be many more Russell posts to come.
Services will be held March 12th at Pacific Christian Church in Santa Maria.
Thanks for the memories, Jane.
March 1st Update: Here's the TCM Remembers tribute video montage for Jane Russell.
TCM just released their June schedule -- more on that later -- and by chance there was an 8-film birthday tribute planned for Russell on June 21st.